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BDP hatches plan for Centre Court retractable roof system


BDP is working on plans to build a retractable roof over Wimbledon's Centre and Number One courts in a bid to stop rain from playing such a crucial role in key matches during future tournaments.

Farahmand Jahanpour, BDP civil and structural engineering director and leader of the Special Structures Group, said he is working on a feasibility study to adapt his 'Skylid' technology for Wimbledon.He is due to present a report to the All England Lawn Tennis Club in coming weeks.

Skylid is an ultra-lightweight, inexpensive retractable roof concept comprising four or more segments (or 'petals') which are drawn back and forth across the roof space by a supporting cable loop system - all inside 10 minutes.

'We are looking at it for Centre Court and Number One, ' said Jahanpour. 'We've got a version that is adaptable for Number One but you need to make alterations with the existing roof on Centre.'

The move follows the clamour for a new solution to the weather problems which dogged the final days of this year's tournament. The architects did suggest a retractable roof be included in the new, BDP-designed, 11,000-seater Number One Court, but the club argued that it would damage the atmosphere of the tournament.

BDP said a retrofitted Skylid could afford reductions of up to 80 per cent in overall weight against normal roof systems because there are no large trusses. It would also have lower construction costs and a reduced impact on stadium design than conventional retractable roofing.

Jahanpour said light problems could be solved by artificial lighting built in to the existing roof 's underside, adding that the 'petals' could be made of glass, allowing 95 per cent light penetration, or ETFE with a range of 35-40 per cent.

If applied to Centre Court, the new Skylid roof would cost 'less than £8 million', according to BDP.

Structural systems on existing stadia average 250 kg/m 2, with a consequent 'massive' saving in cost, not only in the roof element but also in the supporting structure and the foundations.

BDP's Special Structures Group became interested in the possibilities of stadium roof design after its work on the Wimbledon Number One Court and on the Sydney Olympic Tennis Centre.

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