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A retractable roof for Roland-Garros!

Inaugurated in 1928, the legendary Philippe Chatrier court, the central court of the Roland Garros clay court championship is getting a retractable roof.
A retractable roof for Roland-Garros!
© Christophe Guibbaud/FFT
A retractable roof for Roland-Garros!

This year, for exceptional reasons, the Grand Slam tournament has been pushed back from late May to the period of 20 September to 4 October 2020. All the more need for a roof to keep out of the rain and bad weather!

Located in the west of Paris, Roland Garros was the only stadium in the Grand Slam tournament not to have a roof: many games played there were interrupted by rain or darkness.

Steel and canvas wings in tribute to famous aviator Roland Garros

Eleven retractable steel wings with a 100-metre span and measuring 3 metres in height, each weighing 330 tonnes, were designed and manufactured by the Italian Cimolai company. Delivered on-site in kit form, each wing was assembled in the central aisle of Roland Garros and then hoisted onto the sliding rails above the court. Each of the 11 wings was then covered with a translucent and waterproof canvas, creating a retractable roof covering a total surface area of 1 hectare.  “Inspired by the biplane of French aviator Roland Garros, the components that make up the roof were designed to resemble airplane wings in terms of their shape, the materials used, and their structure”, explained DVVD Architectes and DVDD Ingénieurs, the two sister companies that designed the movable roof.

A retractable roof made from a transparent composite material.

The canvasses created by the Serge Ferrari company, specialised in flexible composite materials, were selected to cover the inner and outer parts of the retractable wings, amounting to a total of 25,000 square metres of canvas.

The outer part is covered with Flexilight TX30, a high-performance coated PVC membrane that is waterproof and ultra-resistant to bad weather, lets natural light through while guaranteeing optimal acoustic performance when the roof is closed.

Its inside is lined with a PVC-coated polyester canvas (Alphalia Silent AW), which absorbs 65% of all sound, in order to ensure optimal acoustic performance on rainy days.

In total, the roof which was completed in late February after two years’ manufacturing time and eight months’ installation time, covers a surface of one hectare; the system can be deployed in just 15 minutes. Of course, the retractable roof will also “protect” at night. Games scheduled in the late afternoon will be able to go on until the end even when there is not enough light outside, as the roof is equipped with a lighting system.

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