Olympic Tennis Centre Madrid

MADRID, SPAIN   TO CONSTRUCT A LANDSCAPE  With water, The river widens and becomes a lake defining a large horizontal reference surface: an immense natural mirror.  With the islands, fragments of either arid or luscious Nature, inviting us to the pleasures of a quiet walk or sport activities.  With the promenades, along the sport facilities: walking by the lake shore, over the bridges, the open piazza, always discovering changing points of view over the surrounding landscape.
TO INSTALL AN ARCHITECTURE The point is not to build a "building", but rather to put on stage an architecture (or architectures). The concepts of "garment" and "magic box" shelter the multi-function sport facilities. This wrap opens up and transforms itself following the different events happening within the sports complex, and also creates a changing and lively profile in the landscape. This vibrant and moving skin filters the sunlight and protects the sport pavilions like a light wall. Like a protective garment, the magic box is composed of various fabrics: filtering, reflective and opaque during daytime; twinkling during the night. Mysterious and festive as the stage in a theatre.
TO SUPERIMPOSE TWO WORLDS A) Water level: the sport professionals Training, warming-up, reception of athletes and VIP, as well as the press and technical servicing. A sport complex for every day life also furnished with facilities for important events. B) Street level: the public Walking, day or night, to access and cross the premises on foot, by bike or roller skating... We find the public facilities in the great sports meetings and other events. C) The direct relationships between the park and the surrounding city, along the streets, along the main axes composing the "great landscape" of the territory.
Text by Dominique Perrault Architecture May 2002

MADRID’S OLYMPIC TENNIS CENTRE BY DOMINIQUE PERRAULT TO OPEN ON 8 MAY 2009 Madrid’s Olympic Tennis Centre, designed by leading French architect Dominique Perrault, will be inaugurated on 8 May 2009. Described as one of the world’s most advanced sports facilities, the venue will host some 200 players during the Madrid Open tennis (9-17 May 2009) and aims to reinforce the Spanish Capital’s candidature for the 2016 Olympics. Dominique Perrault, best known for such pioneering buildings as the Berlin Velodrome and Olympic Swimming Pool and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, has offices in Paris, Madrid and Luxembourg. He has recently also delivered the Ewha Women’s University, in Seoul, South Korea, the tower hotel Me in Barcelona and the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg. The firm is currently working on a variety of other major projects ranging from office buildings to hotels and urban planning programmes such as the Fukoku Tower in Japan, the San Pellegrino thermal baths in Italy and office and mixed-use buildings in France.
Madrid Olympic Tennis Centre With a plot area of 16.5 hectares (40.77 acres), the site is located on a former slum housing area, previously a wasteland in the middle of a busy motorway and train network. The 100,000 square metre (1.07 million sq ft) built project includes the “magic box” with three indoor /outdoor courts with covered area for 20,000 spectators (12,000, 5,000 and 3,000 respectively), 16 outdoor courts, five courts with a covered area for 350 spectators each, six practice courts, a pool, headquarters for the Madrid Tennis Federation, a tennis school, clubhouse, press centre, stadium boxes and other private areas and restaurants. Built areas, made of steel, aluminium, concrete and glass, are organized around a vast artificial lake over which volumes of varying sizes are scattered, like islands or fragments of nature beckoning strollers. A system of footbridges opens numerous paths through these volumes, offering spectacular new perspectives and connecting the "magic box" with the San Fermin neighbourhood and the Manzanares river Park, designed by Ricardo Bofill. The "magic box" design superimposes two worlds. At the lake level (level -2), there are spaces for the players and the support services: training, receptions for VIPs, press centre, technical installations. Eight metres above, at the street level (level 0), there are spaces for the public and services aimed at the audiences on match days or during other events. Inside, the tennis arenas are adapted to the different uses of the complex. The roofs of the three indoor/outdoor courts are giant mobile slabs mounted on hydraulic jacks, which serve to partially or totally open the three roofs to allow for passage of air and sunlight or close them to avoid exposure to the rain or other hazardous weather conditions. The three aluminium clad roofs together provide a combination of 27 different opening positions. The roof of the central court, which measures 102 m x 70 m and which weighs some 1,200 tons, can have a vertical opening reach of up to 20 m while the horizontal opening can slide as much as its width. Both the smaller stadiums roofs measure some 60 m x 40 m and can open vertically up to 25 degrees. They can also slide horizontally, leaving the inside of the stadiums completely open to the sky. The movements of the roofs on the scale of the immense structure throw a giant living shadow onto the landscape. Even in the worst weather conditions, Madrid’s Olympic Tennis Centre can hold a minimum of three simultaneous matches, the only tennis premises in the world to offer such flexibility. This versatility allows it not only to host almost any kind of sports meeting, but also a significant number of other events, such as concerts, political meetings, fashion shows, etc.
Perrault’s signature metallic mesh, which envelops the magic box filters, is reflective or opaque, depending on the time of the day. In daylight, it shimmers. At night, light radiates from within, signalling the events underway inside. A special mesh design has been newly developed for this project. The metal mesh panels of the main building (25 m high x 7.20 m wide), have never previously been manufactured to such scale and are therefore pioneering in themselves. The new iconic landmark is endowed with a large park, above the water level, allowing it to be a public space to be used by pedestrians day or night, whether or not competitions are being held. The area, which will have parking for 3,200 cars, is linked to the Madrid Cycle Ring Routes and has an underground station within a five minute walking distance. The architecture of the "magic box" changes the configuration of the city, standing as a powerful signal, a permanent new landmark, and a new entrance.


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