The Source Civil Engineering Magazine Slideshow: Carlo Ratti Associati releases design for eight-story mobile tennis tower

Slideshow: Carlo Ratti Associati releases design for eight-story mobile tennis tower

By Robert L. Reid

  • looking upward at box-like structures holding tennis courts
  • Looking inside the glass end of a tennis court mid-way up the tennis tower at night
  • a close-up of the exterior tv wall of one court at night

International design firm CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, together with Italian architect Italo Rota, has designed a 90 m tall, eight-story tennis court dubbed Playscraper for RCS Sport, a leading sports and media company in Europe. The design team also includes the Italian engineering firms Gae Engineering and Recchi Ingegneria e Partecipazioni S.p.A., among others.

The proposed structure — also referred to as a tennis tower — will provide eight cantilevering boxlike levels of indoor tennis courts, rectangular in plan and stacked atop one another in alternating layers. Together, the eight levels, each with a single tennis court inside, will provide a total of 5,500 sq m of playing space.

“The tower is easy to install and dismantle and can be easily moved,” explains architect and engineer Carlo Ratti, founder of CRA and director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in material distributed by the architects. “This flexible approach fits the circular nature of today’s sports competitions, which move from location to location throughout the year.”

The tower’s design relies on an innovative construction technology that features a lightweight stainless steel sandwich structure developed by the Chinese firm Broad Sustainable Building. The firm’s B-Core slab structure is composed of two stainless steel plates held together by thin core tubes that undergo a 1,100-degree Celsius copper brazing process, according to the manufacturer.

Broad Sustainable Building compares the slab’s performance to that of the honeycomb panels used in spacecraft. The technology allows for the “safe deployment of prefabricated construction units in record time,” explains the architect’s press release.

Transparent walls at each of the narrow ends of the boxes will provide spectacular views of the surrounding area, while the two long sides of the courts’ exteriors will incorporate electronic facades that could be used to stream sports matches or other digital content. “In this way, the tower’s unique design engages not just the players on the court, but those in the surrounding area who can view the action on its wide screens,” according to the press release.

“This project would not just create a new icon for sports lovers. It also experiments with a new type of public space, extending vertically instead of horizontally,” Ratti says.

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