The Longchamp racecourse

In 1857, the inauguration of the Longchamp racecourse was quite an event. It was built by the Horse Improvement Encouragement Society in France at the request of the Duke of Morny. The architects Gabriel Davioud and Antoine-Nicolas Bailly, who were already responsible for the architecture of the famous pavilions in the Bois de Boulogne, were entrusted with the works. All the grandstands were built on a tripartite principle sequenced around the central, V.I.P.-reserved stands, framed by two lower public stands.

In 1904, Charles-Louis Girault, who had already built the weighing pavilion at Chantilly in 1891, erected new stands: the honorary central pavilion, side stands with towers: same approach but distinguished by a more classical vocabulary in style. Between 1919 and 1920, Charles Adda, the head architect of the Encouragement Society since 1919, modified and expanded the stands of the pavilion. Built with reinforced concrete by the Hennebique Société, it retained the original building's towers and oval bays but was modernised by a large, dominating concrete canopy. As such, the roof pillars which could have interfered with following the races were removed. Lastly, the fourth generation of stands at Longchamp – those built in 1966 by the architect J. Regnaul along with his collaborators Lenormand and Vichet – took the place of the 1904 stands. Through remarkable work, the new stands at Longchamp were at first raised separately and then slid onto rails to take the place of the destroyed stands and connect the remaining towers. Seven levels of stands topped by a large aluminium-lined metal canopy and 8,000 seats plus 8,000 standing places still to this day provide outstanding testimony to the racecourse's structure.

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Sophie Cueille, "Le cheval de course en Île-de-France, une présence architecturale et paysagère" [The Racehorse in Île-de-France, an Architectural and Landscape Presence], In Situ, 18, 2012

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