The Curragh Racecourse
Civic Trust Awards
Level of Award
Republic of Ireland
Local Authority Area
Information about this scheme
The Curragh is internationally recognised as one of the best racecourses in the world. However, to maintain its competitive position, a full redevelopment of the site was needed to meet the demands of the future which was funded by a combination of public and private contributions.
A brief was set to design a new racecourse grandstand with supporting infrastructure facilities for 6000 people, within a masterplan that was designed to accommodate a crowd flux of up to 30,000 within the wider grounds. The design needed to respond to and respect its context, whilst retaining intimacy and the unique character of the renowned racecourse.
Located in the heart of the protected grasslands of the Curragh plains in County Kildare, The Curragh racecourse is steeped in history and tradition. In its formal expression, the new grandstand embraces a spirit of place with three stacked, horizontal forms that form a dramatic roof and recognise the planar Curragh landscape within which it is set.
The Vulcan Copper colour of the roof references the rural, Irish vernacular and agricultural heritage of Kildare, whilst the contemporary panelled roof structure, comprised of aluminium sinusoidal panels, provides a striking yet empathetic appearance amidst the rolling countryside. Drawing on a palette of neutral tones, the range of material finishes to the buildings and the landscape consciously link to the local flora, geology and the traditional rural architectural of its setting.
Close collaboration throughout the design process has produced a coordinated and well-considered building with a new landscaped plaza providing a generous meeting area. This space is connected to a smaller plaza to the west which provides dedicated access to the hospitality facilities.
A key stipulation of the brief was for the course to remain open for racing events throughout redevelopment, so following the demolition of the previous grandstand, construction was split into two phases. The first phase addressed the parade rings, saddling stalls, a new entrance arm with a café bistro, and a reception and sanitary facilities, as well as the landscaping and MEP infrastructure to support the external areas that had to remain open within this phase.
Construction of the main grandstand continued throughout the 2018 racing season within a smaller site boundary, pausing only on race days.
Newenham Mulligan & Associates
O'Herlihy Access Consultants
Primary Use Class
Class D2e - Indoor and Outdoor Sports