The Wimbledon tennis championships already have a giant retracting roof over Centre Court – now Number 1 Court is to get one as well.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has awarded the contract to Sheffield-based engineering company SCX has been to build a second retractable at its Wimbledon home.
AELTC is redeveloping Number 1 Court to increase its seating capacity and guarantee play in all weather conditions. Its main contractor for the project is Sir Robert McAlpine, which began work in August on removing the existing fixed roof over the stands.
SCX, originally the projects and maintenance division of overhead travelling crane producer Street Crane, installed the centre court roof 10 years ago and upgraded it in 2011. It is also responsible for its routine maintenance.
SCX managing director Simon Eastwood said: “We are very proud to have built the original retractable roof on Centre Court, so to be chosen by the AELTC to work on Number 1 Court is a real honour. SCX is now one of the leading builders of kinetic architecture in the UK and this contract has taken our order book to record levels.”
The roof is made up of 11 trusses and weighs around 1,100 tonnes. Severfield has the contract for the steelwork.
When closed, the roof will cover an area of about 5,500m². It is based on a concertina design with two main sections that meet in the middle. It will be made of transparent Gore Tenara (a type of Gore-Tex fabric) that is stretched between the steel trusses.
The retractable roof is divided into two sections with a total of 10 bays. Each of the bays is clamped on either side by prismatic steel trusses. The ends of each truss are supported on a wheeled bogie that moves along rails that are fixed to the new superstructure of Number 1 Court. It will be able to be deployed or retracted in around 8 minutes, driven by around 220 electro-mechanical devices (including motors).
SCX is responsible for design and supply of all the mechanical and electrical equipment, and also for the construction of all the components that make up the moving sections of the roof. Much of the construction, assembly and testing work will be carried out at SCX’s new Tyler Street facility in Sheffield.
Completion is scheduled for 2019.
One of the challenges solved by SCX when building the Centre Court roof was to ensure the fabric roof remained in tension when it was closed. The company created an innovative design that ensured the Gore Tenara material is tensioned by a mechanical system.
SCX was founded in Sheffield in 1972 by Keith Eastwood when he was boss of Street Crane. Today SCX is run by Keith’s son, Simon Eastwood and employs 150 people across its three businesses: SCX Special Projects, Street CraneXpress and Burnand XH.
Sir Robert McAlpine bought four new Potain MR 608 luffing jib tower cranes for this project back in August. “We chose the Potain MR 608s for their strong capacity and long reach, and to allow for more flexibility on the court during the construction process,” said Steve Wright, commercial plant manager at Sir Robert McAlpine. Maximum capacity for this crane is 32 tonnes and the maximum jib length is 60 metres.