As part of its brief to develop young players into world champions, the Lawn Tennis Association asked us to help develop a National Tennis Centre in greater London. Their site, part of the Bank of England’s sports ground at Roehampton, already had a connection to tennis; young hopefuls played a qualifying tournament here to enter Wimbledon, and one building was let to the International Tennis Federation.
The site was metropolitan open land, and the design responds to its setting, preserving existing woodland and using the fall across the site to hide some of the bulk of the building. In parallel with the design, Hopkins and the LTA developed a green transport plan to minimise impact on the neighbourhood.
The centre provides numerous tennis courts of differing surfaces. It includes accommodation for 8-16 year olds, staying for three-month courses, specialised gymnasia, a sports injury clinic, a facility for training coaches, and offices. Each function requires a different type of space - the indoor courts need large volumes, the gyms must be well serviced, the offices efficient and the residential areas comfortable and homely. Most importantly, all the elements have to come together in a way that gives the sport a strong, appropriate image.
Three-dimensional grid shell, dome-like roofs form the largest volumes, covering six indoor courts for year-round use. The gyms and training areas on one side and the residential areas, carefully articulated with balconies and windows, on the other, give scale and richness to the facade. Alongside, joined by a courtyard, are the offices. Each part has a separate identity within the overall composition.