Zhuhai Hengqin International Tennis Centre hosts inaugural tournament

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The Zhuhai Hengqin International Tennis Centre on the southern coast of China – designed by Populous, the architects behind Wimbledon Centre Court in the UK, and Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne, Australia – is hosting its first international tennis tournament, the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Elite Trophy Zhuhai on November 3-8.

The first stage of the high profile project was completed in September, just 12 months after construction began on the site, which is located on Hengqin Island and part of the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province.

The facility includes a Centre Court with 5,000 seats, five other match courts and 12 training courts. The site had to be drained and reclaimed before construction began, which then included 160ft-deep reinforced piles, strengthened foundations and giant concrete slabs.

“The speed and quality of construction has been very impressive,” said Andrew James, Populous senior principal and director of Asian projects.

The WTA Elite Trophy is classified as an outdoor tournament, which meant the atmosphere for players (in terms of temperature and humidity) had to be the same on the covered and uncovered courts.

Populous project manager, associate principal Tiric Chang, explained that the solution for the center court was to design an inner and outer roof that offered weather protection but allowed filtered sunlight and natural air flow into the arena.

“We arrived at an elegant, simple, cost effective solution – a cantilevered outer roof over the seating and a circular inner roof over the court, offering protection from the sun, enabling play to continue in wet weather, and allowing gaps for natural ventilation,” Chang said.

“Our vision for the arena was to establish a venue that achieves the best fan, player and media experience with match and training facilities to accommodate and attract high profile international players.”

The deputy director of the Zhuhai Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau, Cheng Yurong, said that the city is committed to continuing the process of internationalization: “This Tennis Centre can help elevate us onto the wider world stage, significantly helping to improve our international image and influence.”

The complex has been designed to be used as a park and community center after the competition, which is open to the public on non-event days in a fully accessible landscaped environment.

Populous was also engaged to help make the site friendly and appealing to families, as well as designing an iconic entranceway of harvested and live bamboo to reflect the surrounding city landscape.

November 4, 2015

Image credit: Huafa Sports Operation and Management Co Ltd

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