Ford Gilpin Riley Architects
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Indoor Tennis Centre, Exeter

Client: University of Exeter
Area: 3,000 m²
Stage: Completed in August 2006
Building costs: £1.2m
Description: New Build

This project forms part of our on-going involvement with the development of sports facilities at the University of Exeter, with whom we have enjoyed a partnership which has now endured for a number of years.

The building is the first such facility within the Exeter region and provides 4 full-size indoor tennis courts to L.T.A. standards. The development also includes a viewing gallery, tennis office, changing and shower facilities and a cafe / lounge area. It was constructed on the site of a former “hard” hockey pitch at the top of the University’s Streatham Campus. The internal layout is largely generated by strict functional requirements and its section is dictated by the necessary minimum clearances set out by international tennis standards. The courts themselves have an acrylic surface which is considered to be optimum for training and coaching purposes.

The external form of the building generally reflects its functional requirements, however instead of being a simplistic “shed” it has features that distinguish it from the norm. The roof is surmounted by a “butterfly” ridge, which contains plant and extracts ventilation equipment. In addition the form of the large structure is streamlined by its curved leading edge, which forms an elegant connection between the building and its site.

A strong statement is established by the limited palette of materials that have been used for the construction of the exterior of the new building. Its envelope is generally enclosed in a silver profiled metal skin, which is foiled only by the sparing use of a blue-black facebrick plinth and buttresses. This establishes a very strong form, especially when the building is seen from middle-distance views.

© Ford Gilpin Riley Ltd, Ford House, Broadclyst, Exeter, Devon, England EX5 3HU
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