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Roland-Garros gets a retractable roof with Serge Ferrari fabric

Case Studies | October 1, 2020 | By:

Built in 1928, the Philippe-Chatrier Court is the main stadium of the Roland-Garros complex. Construction teams for the new retractable roof were on-site within days of the 2019 championship matches. The 11 wings of the roof unfold independently, and each is 105 meters long and 3 meters high. Photos: Serge Ferrari.

Like virtually every other major sporting event, the French Open postponed its 2020 tournament, with play now tentatively set to begin in late September. And when the world’s greatest tennis players set foot on the world’s most famous red clay, they’ll play regardless of weather, under a new retractable roof featuring a translucent, waterproof composite membrane from Serge Ferrari. 

The challenge to designing the roof was daunting: the project owner, the French Tennis Federation, wanted a solution that could be fully deployed within minutes, allows the passage of natural light and delivers excellent acoustic performance when the roof is closed.

The new roof consists of 11 steel “wings” clad with Serge Ferrari’s Flexlight TX30. Designed by architects and engineers of the French firm DVVD, the movable roof was inspired by the biplane of French aviator Roland Garros, with the various elements intended to resemble the wing of a plane in terms of shape, materials and structure.

The beams, designed and manufactured by Italian company Cimolai, weigh 320 metric tons each. They were delivered in seven sections, assembled on the central aisle of Roland-Garros and then lifted onto the sliding rails above the court. Once in place, the fabric wings, manufactured by the company Tensaform, were attached.

The roof covers a surface area equivalent to 1 hectare (over 100,000 square feet) and requires about 15 minutes to be deployed. With the use of Serge Ferrari’s Alphalia Silent AW fabric inside the wings, the roof provides improved acoustic performance during matches and in the event of rainfall. Additional project members included architects commissioned for the general design ACD GIRARDET & Associés; general contractors Petit Construction and Chantiers Modernes Construction, both subsidiaries of VINCI Construction France; and acoustic engineers Lamoureux Acoustique. For more, visit

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