Three Questions to the Architect Dominique Perrault

Why was the historical background important for the new racecourse to be flexible, innovative, polyvalent?
The renewal of the Longchamp racecourse was to ensure that it maintained its place in both the Grand Paris and on the international scene of the world’s major racecourses. This ambitious goal was guided not only by an emblematic architectural project that can be adapted to future needs, but also a landscape project that transfigures the area, highlighting the built legacy, the historical heritage of the racecourse, and especially the green heritage of the Bois de Boulogne forest, which composition was originally designed by Adolphe Alphand in the 19th century.

How did you proceed for the restoration and the new buildings?
The race for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the high point in the annual agenda of the racecourse. Therefore, the main challenge of this project was to host this event, which draws up to 60,000 spectators, under exceptional conditions, while also welcoming a much smaller crowd on ordinary racing days.

This is why we decided to deconstruct all the stands dating from the 1960s and to replace them with only one stand, which is both more compact and more functional. Buildings housing support services for the horse races, which are currently scattered around the site, were demolished and rebuilt in the form of pavilions. Finally, the historic buildings of the racecourse were renovated.

What is the idea behind the architectural concept?
The architectural concept is one of transparent “shelves”, with neither front nor back, enabling spectators to go back and forth from a view over the stables to a view over the racecourse. In short, the architectural project creates generous perspectives over the landscape thanks to the significant reduction of the size of the existing constructions on the site. The architectural design is very pared down, simple and elegant, allowing the gaze and light to pass through the buildings.