Racecourse in Paris Longchamp by Dominique Perrault

published in sb 5/2018

Grandstand in motion

As the main element of Dominique Perrault’s intervention, the new grandstand was built in place of the demolished existing stands. With a capacity of about 10,000 seats, the building has four levels, a restaurant with a roof terrace on the top floor, five reception rooms, five bars, a brasserie, media rooms and hospitality areas.

The first two levels are open to the public, the third floor is reserved for the professionals and owners, and the fourth and fifth floor (with 17 suites and 12 private lounges) for the VIP.

In a dynamic movement the grandstand evokes the idea of a galloping horse, and its volume guides the attention down to the track. The levels are slightly offset from one another until the last level, which presents an overhang of about twenty metres. At double slope the levels are tilted forward to the track and to the finishing line. The horizontality of the tribune and its gilded bronze colour contributes to the integration of the building in the surrounding landscape.

Porosity

Open from both directions, the new grandstand is composed of open floors, and the circulation arrangement is designed to allow free movement in the various spaces. The building provides a 360-degree view of the track thanks to its transparency and to its orientation: down to the track on one side, and down to the paddock on the other. The sensation of space and the feeling of openness is derived from the large amount of natural light admitted by the generously dimensioned windows.

The idea was a building with neither front nor back, where you can circulate freely from one side to the other, without obstacles. The new building offers also more flexibility and modularity. The suites for example can be transformed into a direct access to the main lounge.

The interior structure consists of concrete and metal, the stands are covered with wood. The golden aluminium façades contribute to the integration of the volume in its environment by playing with the light with the changing seasons. Echoing the former Longchamp stands, the screen-printed glazed balustrades evoke the flower planters of the former racecourse.

View of the Eiffel Tower

Throughout the building, there is unobstructed access and views of both the racecourse and the wider landscape. The Panorama restaurant, with its terrace and its stands offers a breathtaking view of the racecourse and the ­distant landscape: the Eiffel Tower, Mont Valérien and ­Paris-La Défense. The terraces also offer views of the ­stables and the parade ring, creating a direct relation ­between the public and the equestrian world.

Commemorating heritage

With its new grandstand, lower and shorter than the previous one, the new racecourse puts the emphasis on the landscaped spaces. The landscape project sublimates the landscape work made in the 19th century by Adolphe ­Alphand, with a scenography of the walkway of visitors and horses. Thus the horses pass by the stands to access the course and are visible from the terrace of the building.

The main lawn area can receive temporary facilities, and the promenade recalls the “planches” of Deauville designed by architect Charles Adda. This pedestrian prom­enade of 5,500 metres located at 4.50 metres above the ground organises the flows between the ‘Entrée d’honneur‘ entry, the access to the lawn by the tunnel, the restaurant, the galleries, the paddock stands and the Longchamp garden stands. It also offers space for temporary events.

The built environment and the gardens form a coherent whole. The project values the existing heritage represented by trees in finding a spatial development close to the original Longchamp. It restores visual permeability at the west fringe level to reduce the boundary effect between the racecourse and the rest of the Bois de Boulogne forest. 105 new trees were planted (in total 600 on the site) and the large lawn spaces make the space greener and shadier.