Successful and holistic design in the built environment is about the allocation of resources in the most economical manner, to create beneficial outcomes that are valued the most. It’s about working on the strategy and detail so clients make the right decisions that get them where they want to be. For the Sports Canopy designed at the National Tennis Centre, beneficial outcomes are motivated, prepared, less injury prone and skilled young tennis players with the best career start to compete globally on the principal playing surface of clay.
One pair of existing courts was chosen to support these outcomes through the use of a weather-protection canopy, which was also designed in prototype form for any use requiring economical large spans.
Research and project delivery team-work, lead by George Stowell with a pan-European team from the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, delivered an inspiring and creative design solution: with economic capital and whole life costs; attuned to player and coaching requirements; low pressure air inflation for a robust lifespan; meeting the Metropolitan Open Land planning policy; open-sided, allowing player development in varying conditions; complimentary design to the existing award-winning facility; seasonal demountability, and providing a prototype for future uses.
The canopy has been attuned to the exacting demands of some of the world’s leading coaches. It is formed from composite pneumatic fabric beams (42 m span), with efficient internal steel stiffening, braced by an exo-skeleton of tensile fabric and compressive struts, giving an inspiring, economic and acoustically usable high performance training environment.
Significantly, it creates a huge saving in running costs compared to existing pneumatic structures, using up to 90% less energy. Compared to large span metal structures it uses up to 75% fewer materials. It is the first of its type to be built in the world.