23.3.2012

New Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, France

Program
Through the following program, the modernizing project of the Longchamp Racecourse aims at increasing the frequency of the sport events (from 30 races a year today, to 50 meetings a year after the redevelopment), at opening Racecourse all year long thanks to the creation on the site of permanent activities and the reduction of the operating costs:
• Creation of a new raceway in filtered sand (PSF), in option.
• Demolition / reconstruction of the Presidential, the Conseil Municipal, and the Jockey Club stands.
• Demolition / reconstruction of the weighing Pavilion and the introduction circle stands (area dedicated to the sport activity: changing rooms, weighing, commissioners…).
• Demolition / reconstruction of the village, the terraces and the cash desk (located at the north of the site with the health service, the race organization …).
• Creation of a new Reception Pavilion, a café, exhibition spaces, a hall for events, a raceway restaurant, and a great panoramic restaurant overhanging the new stands.
• Preservation / renovation of the Pavilion Stand and the tote Pavilion (Registered in the additional list of the Historic Monuments).
• Preservation / renovation of the stables area and the administrative building with a relocation of the introduction circle and the extension of the stables.
• Creation of a structuring line, going North to South, linking up all the programs (stands, reception, gardens, cultural spaces, patrimonial area, restaurant, event area…).
• Redevelopment of the accesses to the site: entrance to Paris, entrance to Boulogne, forecourt on the Seine River Side.
• Renovation of the underground foundations: adjustment to regulations of the pedestrian tunnel under the raceway, and in case of the PSF realization, extension and modification of the road tunnel.
• Landscaping: reducing the building areas and increasing the permeable floor areas, planting trees on the site and making a new landscape by highlighting the blue network.

After a limited international competition, France Galop -client- names Dominique Perrault as the winner of the project for the new Longchamp.

While satisfying strong sportive ambitions – maintaining the rank of the Longchamp racecourse on the international equestrian scene by offering the best conditions to host the Quatar Prix de Arc de Triomphe, first equestrian event in the world – the project presented by Dominique Perrault Architecture carries out successfully the synthesis of History and landscape.

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Emblematic place of the equestrian world in Paris, located in the west end of the Bois de Boulogne – one of the both wide green areas of the capital – Longchamp racetrack which knew 3 major construction and extension phases since the mid 19th century, is made up with a wide range of buildings, from different times and styles, as well as different levels fitted over each other, in which it became more and more difficult to find one’s way.

In view of this observation, the architect’s ambition consists in highlighting the architecture elements contributing to the identity of Longchamp – the Pavilion’s Stand, the former tote Pavilion, the stables, as well as the outstanding plant heritage – by integrating them in the new project of the racecourse’s development and by transforming the current landscape.

Above the current level, a huge wooden walk, “Les Planches”, accessible through wide and sloping gently ramps, is carried out for the pedestrian circulations of the general public. The real spinal column of the project, “Les Planches“ run along and link up from North to South all the functions of the racecourse. Under this new level of reference (unique and unifying), on the current ground level, are running all the equestrian, technical and logistic movements.
Linking up the different functions like on a campus, the new topography encourages the spaces’ opening, their permeability with the landscape and the fluidity of the circulation, while making the public roads disappear to form a landscape exclusively intended to the walkers and the racings.

The Main Path, as a sloping public square, allows to reach the bottom of the Presidential stand. This “urban” space is lined on one hand with the Weighing machines Pavilion and the Introduction’s Circle, and on the other hand with the Reception and Information Pavilion, the museum with its café and its terrace.
As a contemporary reinterpretation of the large planted Parisian avenues of Alphand, shaded from the sun by the plane trees lining the sidewalks, “Les Planches” are protected from the sun and the wind by a system of large sunshades in stainless steel and metallic mesh – signature of the architect. Five metres high, six by six meters wide, those sunshades recreate gradually a landscape and guide the visitor from a place to another. Sparkling during the day, they let the light going through while protecting from the sun. Acting as lightning support during the night, the sunshades disappear to only reveal their structure, as so many luminous reflectors enhancing the territory.

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The architecture of the stands is in motion, like a galloping horse. A soft overhang effect from West to East brings the audience closer to the raceway activity while a second one, from South to North, is directing the set of overlaid stands towards the finishi line. This shift creates an overhanging stand on the racetrack side, and conversely, a stand in balcony on the Introduction’s Circle side. The idea is having no front and no back, but each side offering more views and a special attractiveness.
The light structure of the building erases the architecture in favour of the transparency and offering a panorama of the landscape and the raceway. The architect proposes a stacking of thin concrete leafs tinted in the mass, with a dark grey colour. This leafs overlapped in motion allows to protect naturally the seated and standing benches from the sun and the rain, and to give to the stands an impulse and a completely new outline easily recognizable.
Above on the stands, a special element is completing the outline of the Longchamp racecourse to place it in the Parisian skyline. A prism made of glass, a 127 metres long and 23 metres wide rectangle, partly hung in the air: the Grand Panorama. This restaurant intended to be opened to the public all year long, beholds on 360 degrees the view over Paris and the Seine River, and will become a new reference for the capital.

Beyond the specifically architectural elements, the project sets up a new landscape by creating a new façade on the Seine river side with a large forecourt facing the Honour Path therefore reconsidering the dialogue with the water.

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Provided with a real entrance, the New Longchamp Racecourse will be opened to the public all year long. The panoramic restaurant, the Pavilions dedicated to events, the museum and the golf course will take part in the life of this sportive infrastructure, outstanding beyond the equestrian events.
The New Longchamp racecourse, whose reforestation and the work on the outer boundaries will allow integration of its park into the Bois de Boulogne landscape, will offer to the Parisians a new place for walking, discovering and meeting. Designed to limit the environmental impact on this historical listed site and to minimize the use of resources, the project plans the use solar, thermal and photovoltaic roofs for energy production, vegetal terraces saving rainwater, as well as landscape devices for the natural treatment of the grey water.

Dominique Perrault offers here an emblematic architectural project, able to fit future evolutions, as well as an urban and landscape project transforming the territory by highlighting the built heritage and the naturel heritage of the site.

The work will start in October 2014 – after the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, for an inauguration of the New Longchamp planed in October 2016, to host the edition 2016 of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

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