CHALLENGE. Ascot has been a racecourse since the 11th August 1711, when on the bidding of Queen Anne, seven horses competed over four miles. In three centuries, Ascot has built up a remarkable history as one of the finest in the world. Yet to keep pace with developments in the sport, and provide the best facilities for racegoers and jockeys, the Club recognised that the facilities had to be modernised.
The broad challenge for Populous was to design a modern racecourse that would remain sensitive to its historic setting, yet meet modern requirements. Specifically, the masterplan had to accommodate a larger grandstand and resolve the existing circulation challenges.
For me, there are two fundamental things that make a trip to Royal Ascot very special indeed. Nothing beats the atmosphere when 9,000 people welcome The Queen into the Parade Ring each day and Royal Ascot is a place where memories are made.Alastair Warwick / Chief Operating Officer, Ascot Racecourse
INNOVATION. Inspired by the soaring, magnificent trees that the racecourse is famous for, the new 30,000-seat, 480m grandstand perches on the brow of a hill, its shallow-arched paraboloid shape looking out at panoramic views of the course to the north. Within the stand, a large atrium acts as an ‘environmental lung’, topped by a lightweight glass and steel roof with a light sweeping canopy sailing over the whole.
As well as stunning views of the racecourse, spectators have visual and physical access to the parade ring, now moved to the front of the grandstand to create a central focus for race days that gives spectators a chance to engage with the pre and post-race ceremonies.
IMPACT. Royal Ascot is the most valuable race meeting in Europe, and Britain’s most popular, welcoming approximately 300,000 visitors across the five days of the festival. The masterplan, with its newly-sited parade ring, stunning Grandstand and improved facilities, offers these racegoers – and all those visiting throughout the year – a wealth of different experiences, broadening Ascot’s appeal even further and assuring its future continued position as one of the world’s leading racecourses.
As the architect of the grandstand at Ascot Race Course, the main challenge for Populous was to design a modern building that would remain sensitive to its historic setting. Specifically, it had to accommodate a larger capacity and resolve the existing circulation challenges. Inspired by the magnificent trees that the racecourse is famous for, the new 30,000 seat, 480m grandstand perches on the brow of a hill, its shallow-arched paraboloid shape looking out at panoramic views of the course to the north. Within, a large atrium acts as an ‘environmental lung’, topped by a lightweight glass and steel roof with a light sweeping canopy sailing over the whole.
The scheme repositions the parade ring to be in front of the grandstand, allowing spectators physical and visual access and creating a new focal point for spectator engagement on race day.
- Local Authority Building Control Awards, Best Partnership with Client and Best Fire Engineering Innovation