This complete remodel of a horse racetrack in the heart of Fontainbleau, France by Parisian Architecture firm Joly & Loiret takes design cues from the surrounding environment, embedding the project within the landscape rather than over it. The winning design for the Grand Parquet Horse Eventing Area is a site-sensitive collection of low-slung stands and buildings that blend in the earth through careful placement and material use while providing plentiful views of the grounds.
Joly & Loiret describe the project, saying: “Instead of creating a ‘building’ in the classic sense of the term, this intervention follows the natural lay of the land. Blurring the building into the landscape creates a functional, conceptual, and formal continuity of space.”
The main building is set into a southern embankment, where it rises with the land and peaks at the covered viewing stand. Tucked below are offices, a restaurant, and a shortcut through the facility. The design is very pedestrian oriented, as the grounds are fully accessible, converging on an adjacent forest. One of the project’s core design strategies was to maintain a certain quality of nature, so the buildings are wrapped in wood elements which soften the whole of the facility.
Rows of trellises along the portion of the pedestrian walk behind the main stands add shade to the hardscape and interior, and they will soon be bursting with greenery. Storm water is carefully absorbed on-site. The stands can be approached from all sides, and the wooden seating areas double as steps, giving the stands uncluttered visual acumen. The wooden façade also acts as a double skin, reducing solar heat gain in the buildings, and some structures even sport green roofs to keep cool.