The Club Stand for the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is a new centrepiece at Flemington Racecourse, the home of the Melbourne Cup. Designed by Bates Smart, the new Club Stand is the tenth grandstand to be built at Flemington since 1865.
Its design draws inspiration from the shape of the iconic racetrack, adorned by its much-loved rose gardens and the floral headwear donned on race days. A signature feature of the project is the ‘petal’ projections which form the perimeter of the Club Stand at each floor. These were constructed using 90 precast panels, each weighing up to 30 tonnes.
The building is designed to celebrate the rich history and character of Flemington Racecourse. Its sweeping sculptural form is a focal point for the venue, offering connectivity to and 360-degree views of the mounting yard, race track, members lawn, parade ring, betting ring and winning post.
"The highly sculptural curvilinear form of the building with its tilting sunshade and tiered seating will create an immersive 'in-the-round' experience for members and their guests, who will enjoy each of the beautifully curated venues with impressive views of the racetrack," says Kristen Whittle, director, Bates Smart.
The perimeter of the building features floor-to-ceiling glazing that is treated as frameless walls. This concept is brought internally with curved full-height glass dividing walls so there is visibility through the building. The principle white ceilings are curved to mimic the underside and the balconies of the external façade to bring the architectural expression within.
A key driver of the design was to create opportunities to improve sightlines to the race track and to ensure the floorplate remains flexible to accommodate any alternations to meet future needs. According to the architects, The Club Stand significantly increases the capacity for the VRC with unprecedented sightlines as well as broadening the offer of unique premium bars and restaurants for members.
Interior venues are defined by transparent thresholds. Seamless glass screens grow out of the architectural facades on each level to create elegant, curvilinear bay windows. Thresholds between the interior spaces, the terraces and the circulation spaces ‘dissolve’, continuing the theme of transparency, while providing outstanding sightlines to the track.
“It was important to create a seamless transition from the exterior architecture to the interior spaces to ensure a premium race-day experience for members, offering a cohesive and consistent design language from the outside in,” says Bates Smart director Jeff Copolov, who was responsible for the interior design.
“Every detail has been carefully considered to minimise the impact on the views and expand the extraordinary frameless glass floor-to-ceiling perimeter.”
The Club Stand is crowned by The Roof Garden, providing patrons with exceptional views of both the racecourse and Melbourne’s city skyline. The Roof Garden offers landscaped areas with open and enclosed spaces beneath canopies, a signature design element of The Club Stand’s architecture.
To further improve circulation, a new external walkway on the first floor wraps around The Club Stand and is connected to the existing members grandstand and parade ring. A new north-south corridor forms the heart of the new Club Stand and links the Betting Ring with the members lawn and mounting yard.
Bates Smart was also responsible for the design of the betting ring, a key element to the theatre and excitement of race day, as well as an important arrival experience at the racecourse. The design of the betting ring creates a series of new pavilions for the traditional bookmakers. The curved form of the canopies, along with their elegant profile continues the curvilinear form of the building out into the forecourt. The pavilion canopies also provide a covered entry for members before their arrival into The Club Stand.