Glorious goodwood: One of England's most delightful and rural racecourses has been transformed with a new, summery and light-hearted back-of-house.
The new arrangements at Goodwood, one of Britain's most prestigious racetracks, could set a standard for many others. The Hopkins practice was asked to rationalize a typical messy back-of-grandstand in which the flow of people from stand to ring was obstructed by the weighing-in building (the place where the weight of jockeys is measured, so that the handicaps can be worked out).
Now, the whole layout has been reorganized: there is a new entrance and drop-off point, a new ticket office and meeting room. Weighing facilities have been moved under the central pavilion of the three new structures that overlook the ring and focus on the enclosure. A terraced mound has been created from which you can see the parading people and horses, smell the sweat and dung, feel the tension of the race about to happen and the ecstasy of the winners. The BBC has a new suite with commentary platform, built as the retaining structure under promenade level, that links grandstands and the top of the terraces.
The new building complex floats to the south of the main (March) grandstand, built by Howard Lobb in 1980. The old entrance next to the grandstand has been replaced by a new restaurant which has splendid views of the members' lawn and the horsewalk which connects parade ring and track. Echoes of the Lord's Mound cricket stand (AR September 1987) reverberate through the new pavilions. Here again is the notion of evoking the ways in which traditional English grass sports were originally viewed: from the shelter of tents. Here again is the principle of masts supporting floating membranes (in this case PVC), with as little structure as possible at the edges to prevent views being obscured.
Plans of all pavilions are the same, with a central bar or servery surrounded by tables, and balconies overlooking the green space. East and west pavilions have glass wind-protection screens. The middle one is entirely open -- here the tables are tall, for standing-up eating and there are breathtaking views down to the enclosure, and over that and the beautiful green countryside to Chichester Cathedral and, in the distance, the blue sea. In fact, the pavilions are to be used for only about 22 days in mid-year, and their hats are an evocation of happy, convivial summer days. They are light-hearted, and evoke both the excitement of the races and the happiness of the rare sun in England's cloudy climate.
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|Publication:||The Architectural Review|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2002|
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