Sheffield-based SCX to build second retractable roof at Wimbledon

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Sheffield-based engineering company SCX has been awarded the contract to build a second retractable roof at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), home of the Wimbledon Championships.

The deal is part of a multi-million-pound project by the AELTC to redevelop Number 1 Court, which will increase its seating capacity and transform it into a grass court arena capable of guaranteed play in all weather conditions.

SCX Group 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 honor. 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.”

SCX was founded in Sheffield in 1972, by Keith Eastwood. Today, SCX has its headquarters on Roman Ridge Road, Sheffield, and is headed by managing director and Keith’s son, Simon Eastwood. SCX employs 150 people across its three businesses: SCX Special Projects; Street CraneXpress; and Burnand XH.

When fully completed in 2019, the new retractable roof, like the existing one built by SCX for Centre Court, will allow guaranteed play irrespective of the weather. The roof 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), which is stretched between the steel trusses. The roof will cover an area of about 59,200ft², will be made up of 11 trusses and weighs around 1,100 tons. The roof can be deployed or retracted in around eight minutes.

Around 220 electromechanical devices (including motors), along with a control system capable of working to accuracies of a fraction of a millimeter, are needed to ensure the roof operates smoothly and quietly. The 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.

SCX is responsible for design and supply of all the mechanical and electrical equipment, and 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.

SCX special projects director, Andy Whitworth said, “SCX prides itself on its expertise in the field of precision engineering. We have an amazing team of designers, engineers and suppliers and everyone is excited about working on such a prestigious project.” 

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, first-of-its-kind design that ensured the Gore Tenara material is tensioned by a mechanical system.

Like SCX’s original design for Centre Court, the new retractable Number 1 Court roof will mean players and spectators can enjoy world-class tennis on grass, whatever the weather conditions. The translucent fabric will continue to let high levels of natural light into the venue even when the roof is closed.

“Wimbledon is the world’s greatest tennis tournament, and we are incredibly proud to be part of the work on Number 1 Court,” says Eastwood. “Our technical innovation and engineering expertise helped us to produce a highly successful retractable roof for Centre Court, and we expect this project to be just as successful.”

November 24, 2016

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