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The Championships 2022 Centre Court Upgrades and Umpire’s Chair

In celebration of the centenary of Centre Court, The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) appointed KSS to design a series of upgrades to the iconic Centre Court and redesign the umpire’s chair. Both of these exciting projects were revealed during the 2022 Championships.

Centre Court Upgrades

In the 100 years since its original construction, Centre Court has been expanded, modified, and upgraded with ever increasing amounts of technology to ensure it continues to be the centrepiece of The Championships. KSS’ brief was to improve the appearance and functionality of the inner bowl and court surrounds, bringing everything together with a unified design to enrich the court’s heritage and atmosphere.

Enhancements included an increased court size, new seating areas on either side of the Royal Box, extensions to the court walls, and improvements to the commentary boxes. The most significant feature of the redesign is the player entrance within the court canvas, a ‘central reveal’, creating a route directly from the Clubhouse onto the court.

The works also make Centre Court more inclusive with improved access to accessible seating and better sightlines at court level, in addition to new, elevated accessible seating for wheelchair users and companions in the lower tier.

As part of the design process, KSS looked at the 1920s drawings for Centre Court and images provided by the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. This inspired the reintroduction of the original balustrade detailing to the elevations at the north and south of the court. A section of the old pattern was moulded and then re-cast as part of the new enhancement works.

Architect: KSS | Structural & MEP Engineers: Cundall |Cost Consultant: Turner & Townsend

 

Umpire’s Chair

The officials feature in many iconic Wimbledon moments however, the umpire’s chair has changed little over the years. The project aim was to design a bespoke chair for The Championships which improved comfort, functionality, and technological integration whilst still a part of the background, ensuring the focus remains on the tennis.

KSS’ design response takes inspiration from the traditional wooden tennis racket design and Wimbledon’s ‘tennis in an English country garden’ setting. Whilst tennis rackets have evolved, the construction technique historically involved a singular piece of timber shaped and bent to form the head of the racket and joined at the handle. The new chair design mirrors this materiality and detailing with a singular timber form which is both sculptural and functional whilst maintaining a slimline profile in order to minimise obstruction of views. The chair’s painted finish sensitively blends into its surrounding with exposed English oak and ash detailing inspired by the timber rackets.

During the project, KSS met with a number of stakeholders from the AELTC to fully understand the technical requirements and experience of the end-users. Balancing all the different needs was a challenging process, however, the final design offers improved stability, ergonomics, and technological integration.

The result is an evolution of a Wimbledon icon.

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