Nicholas Grimshaw's masterplan for Wimbledon
Nicholas Grimshaw and Grant Associates juggle heritage and modernity with new look for UK's home of tennis
It’s a tricky thing to pull off, juggling heritage with modernity, aesthetics with function. And The All England Lawn Tennis Club has both in spades at Wimbledon. The dozens of players and 450,000 spectators attending the Grand Slam this week and next want to experience great tennis in a great setting, with all the convenience of mod cons. So a Wimbledon Masterplan has just been unveiled which aims to reflect and reinforce “the long history of The Championships while further enhancing Wimbledon’s position as the premier Grand Slam tennis event”. It’s the work of London-based Grimshaw Architects and landscape architects Grant Associates, in Bath.
As anyone who's been will know, there’s a crowding issue at Wimbledon, particularly around the outside courts. Punters fight to catch a rally or two, often standing four or five deep. Bottle-necks are created and tempers occasionally get frayed. Grant Associates hope to alleviate some of that as they “define, connect and choreograph spaces throughout the Grounds”. But crucially, those old dears at the AELTC also want some spirit of England (a vision they may share with former Prime Minister John Major) to be reflected there.
Or as Keith French, director of Grant Associates puts it: “Our aim is to capture the spirit of playing tennis in an English garden whilst building on the tradition, quality, elegance and attention to detail Wimbledon is renowned for.” So there will be improved landscape walkways and promenades, topiary, green walls and planted pergolas, creative paving, display areas, lots of new trees and themed garden spaces.
Meanwhile, Grimshaw will be remodelling No.1 Court, giving it a retractable roof, and expanding the obligatory corporate hospitality areas. All the changes of course will be done outside the tournament dates. The wonderful 20th Century World Architecture features 10 stadia and three gymnasia among a host of iconic buildings. Check it out in the store now.