With the intention of creating a gateway for the city of Ploiesti, studioBASAR’s functional and architectural rehabilitation of the Ploiesti Racetrack is a direct response to the current chaotic conditions surrounding the site. Their intervention has led them to a more functional equitation and leisure center dividing the design into three zones that each represents different atmospheres and qualities. More images and architect’s description after the break.
The site where The Racetrack is located is mentioned as early as the 1920’s as one of the 3 possible parks out of the Ploiesti city limits. The site is 3km away off the future highway that links Bucharest with the mountain resorts at the North of the country, and it’s location near the city limits facilitates an easy access from the capital city. The position near the main access boulevard in the city and the proximity of the Oil and Gas University to the site makes this place a kind of City Gate, as defined in the administration’s strategy.
The site’s internal organization grew in time by gradually added buildings without a coherent direction qith the outcome being chaotic with a somehow inaccessible functionality. We propose some of the existing buildings to be demolished (the stock buildings, the stables and the tribune that are in a bad functional and structural shape), some to be restored/renovated (the gate, the old stable, the water tower and the administration building). The first intervention on the site is to modify the landscape as a reaction to the surface and the shape of the racetrack and to the main access direction, creating a natural earth bank, which is slightly raised and can be used as a kind of natural tribune for watching the event.
We divided the site and proposed 3 functional zones:
West area – with the main access from the boulevard, the Leisure zone, where we propose to restore the fair function, as it was before the WWII, through the building of the expo area together with a 4 stars hotel.
Central area – with the race track in the middle and the spectators on one side and the horses on the other (we propose that the tribune and the stables to face each, for the spectators to have in sight the race preparations across the track).
East area – with the sport function – The Equitation School and the Administration facilities.
These 3 areas have different atmospheres and qualities: West – a landscape filter, between the city and the racetrack; Central area – distance, with the empty space of the racetrack in the middle, East – informal arrangement of the different training fields and paddocks. There are also 3 different landscape attitudes: Forest/ Plain/ Garden
The Hotel and The Mixed-Use Complex
Their functions being complementary, The Hotel and the Mixed-Use Complex are placed together. Their public functions are connected through a snake like path that is also materialized in the facades. For some types of events, the exhibition space of the main multi-use hall can be extended outside in the park and in the back, through the glass openings of the facades.
The volume of the tribune is modeled by 3 main cuts: 1. the spectators’ standings, 2. a protected public space in the main access area (the back of the tribune) and 3. the optimum orientation of the roof for solar panels. The volume is lift on columns above a generous public space which contains the betting booths, shops, and the court of honor which is like an amphitheatre for the horse parade before the race. The public functions from the first and second floors are connected with the public plaza on the ground floor through 4 escalators.
We grouped the housing and the relaxation and walking facilities of a typical horse stable into a single circular shape building around the paddock using in this way more efficiently the limited space of the site. The 300 stables are distributed in a village like shape formed by 9 circular units, with a network of curved spaces.
The Equitation School
The Equitation School is close to the old existing stable building and from the inside of the school one can see the old building like a background for the riding events. All the other spaces of the school – coffee shop, locker rooms, teaching school, administration area are placed around a central medieval like open court, with the water tower acting as the campanile. All the different internal paths of people meet in this central area. An elevator and a stair are placed in the interior of the water tower to reach the panoramic bar above.
The training paddocks are outside the Riding School, with the largest of them (50×100m) being for international competitions. We decided to leave this paddock uncovered, with the possibility of covering it with an inflatable structure (the initial investment is cheap, planning costs are zero, the heating and the ventilation are included and most important thing is that the structure can be assembled and disassembled very easy).
We decided that at present, the existing administration building is mostly fitted structurally and functionally but we thought at a vertical and horizontal extension with some needed public facilities like a reception area, an eating area, a meeting area and an area designated to the jockeys – locker rooms, showers, bathrooms.
Architecture: studioBASAR : Alex Axinte, Cristi Borcan Location: Ploiesti, Romania Collaborators: Tudor Elian, Radu Lesevschi, Ioana Pavaluca Landscaping: Diana Culescu Images: Claudiu Forgaci, Alexandru Tudose Structure: Altfel Construct: Lucian Stanciu, Mihai Pavel Equipment: Alyates Design: Mirela Neculai, Florentina Radu, Alexandru Damian History consultant: Horia Moldovan Economic: Zainea Caraman Client: Ploiesti City and The Romanian Trotting Association Date: January-May 2010