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Wimbledon’s Centre Court Retractable Roof Features SEFAR® Architecture TENARA® Fabric

Fabric Provides Rain Protection and Light Transmission

Publish Date: Thursday, June 09, 2011

DEPEW, NY…When play begins at the prestigious Wimbledon Championships every June, the famed Centre Court is always protected by a retractable roof featuring SEFAR® Architecture’s TENARA® ePTFE fabric.

The Wimbledon Championships have been held at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club since 1877, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world and the only Grand Slam tournament played on the game’s original surface of grass. As an outdoor tournament, rain has postponed and interrupted the main matches at Centre Court throughout its 89-year history.  To address this problem, the All England Club added a retractable roof that provides protection from rain while providing highly effective light transmission.

Made up of 17,060 square feet of TENARA Fabric, the 56,000 square-foot roof spans 253 feet across Wimbledon’s Centre Court and has a clearance of 52 feet to accommodate lobbed balls.

The roof is comprised of two types of SEFAR Architecture TENARA Fabric. The majority of the roof features 4T40HF, which offers 38% light transmission and the remainder features 4T20HF, which allows 19% light transmission. Both fabrics were strategically placed to prevent shadows and bright spots on the court.

"We chose TENARA fabric for a variety of reasons, but especially for its high light transmission and reflection properties,” says Mike Bridges, Project Director for Galliford Try, the design and build contractor for the project. “We were able to create optimal levels of natural light on the main field, and provide a more reflective surface for the sports lighting over the gutter fields."

The fabric’s ability to let light pass through while providing protection from inclement weather was the primary factor in its selection. TENARA allows Centre Court to feel like an outdoor environment, even when the roof is closed. It was important to maintain the traditional experience for players and spectators, and to capture high quality images for television broadcasting in more than 130 countries.

TENARA Fabric is woven from high-strength expanded ePTFE fluoropolymers, and is also fluoropolymer-coated, making PTFE inherent in the material. This provides the fabric with the ability to flex and fold without wear or losing strength. Since the fabric will be folded and parked into its housing for storage most of the year, this was another factor in its selection. The material will not crack, crease or develop mold or mildew while stored.

"The TENARA fabric looks and performs exactly the same as the day it was installed,” adds Mike Bridges. “Despite consistent use and repeated folding, it has held up impressively as expected."

Centre Court’s retractable roof is built in two sections, one with four bays and the other with five. The TENARA Fabric was joined using high frequency welding, and is supported using ten steel trusses. The roof is typically parked with all ten trusses stacked within 300mm of each other on the north side of the court to provide the grass with sun exposure. During the Wimbledon finals, five trusses are moved to the south side in preparation for possible operation. Wheels move along tracks to open and close the roof, aided by a series of hydraulic jacks and arms. This system opens and unfolds the fabric over the court until the two sections meet in the middle and create an overlapping, waterproof seam. The opening or closing of the roof takes less than ten minutes.

The addition of the retractable roof was the spotlight of upgrades in 2009 to Centre Court Stadium, and its space saving qualities allowed the facility to increase capacity by 1,200 spectators to 15,000. An air management system was installed in conjunction with the roof to manage condensation and humidity while the roof is closed. The roof was also fitted with floodlights to allow play to continue after dark.

“TENARA provided the ideal solution for this historic facility that wanted to retain its existing look and provide protection from inclement weather,” says Peter Katcha, Director of North American Sales for SEFAR Architecture. “We’re proud that our premier material was chosen for this premier venue.”

To see a video of the Wimbledon Centre Court retractable roof, click here.

To learn more about SEFAR Architecture’s Tenara fabric, visit http://www.tenarafabric.com

The Wimbledon Centre Court project was completed in summer 2009. Members of the project team include owner All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon, England, architect Global Design Firm Populous, London, England, engineer Tensys Ltd., Bath, UK, general contractor Galliford Try plc, England.

About SEFAR Architecture: SEFAR Architecture is a leading manufacturer of monofilament precision and ePTFE yarn fabrics and fabric systems for interior and exterior architectural applications. With comprehensive knowledge in textile architecture, Sefar has cooperated with experienced lighting technicians and polymer experts to develop a new generation of fabrics for the architectural and design community. For more information on SEFAR Architecture’s products and services, call Peter Katcha at 727-388-4919 or visit www.sefar.us.