Redesign challenges at France’s scenic Paris Longchamp Racecourse included adjusting the facility to better match the size of crowds at different times of the year.
It can be a balancing act to make something cost effective, practical, yet appealing and comfortable. This was one of the challenges in the redesign of Paris’ Longchamp Racecourse, a scenic horse-racing venue in France. However, hosting Europe’s most important horse race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, means accommodating 60,000 fans—a number that hardly resembles the track’s typical attendance. A smaller, more comfortable, complex was preferred by the owners, one that could take advantage of the forest surrounding the area, as well as its view of the Eiffel Tower. The facility, was also in desperate need of a more cohesive campus, as multiple renovations and extensions led to a not-so-friendly network of buildings and spaces.
With the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe taking place in autumn, French architect Dominique Perrault wanted something that could blend in and be lost in the beautiful scenery: “We wanted a special color for this building… I would like, more or less, for the building to disappear in the forest. The presence of the building should not be too strong.”
Another aspect that needed special attention was the grandstand, the goal being to not have it appear static and to have viewers able to see both the race and the city in clear views.
The capacity issue was addressed via temporary facilities that would be set-up during peak times during the racing season. Perrault, instead, focused on movement and transparency in the facility, as well as his desire to see it mesh with the autumn woods. It turns out, metal mesh, from gkd proved the answer. Golden sheets of metal fabric—Escale 7 × 1.5—wrap the grandstand, delivering visual lightness, as well as kinetic movement, via a façade that opens and closes when needed. For continuity, the same metal fabric is used in the interior, in concert with acoustic mesh panels, to create a feeling of grace and elegance,worthy of such a historic and memorable building.