Bates Smart has completed The Club Stand for the Victoria Racing Club (VRC). The $128 million state-of-the-art hospitality facility with a GFA of 12,967sqm draws inspiration from Flemington’s garden setting and will be the tenth grandstand built at Flemington since 1865. Bates Smart’s approach ensured the architectural language of the exterior was very well-defined, and this approach is continued internally with the elements of each fitout treated like a sleek, timeless stage set that can be inserted into the preceding shell.
Each venue is in effect ‘plugged in’ as sets for a theatrical experience with its own personality. Internal decorative elements of The Club Stand are visibly disengaged from the base building architecture which has visible and clearly designed elements, allowing for a seamless flow through the building. The perimeter of The Club Stand features floor-to-ceiling glazing that is treated as frameless walls. This concept is brought within with curved full-height glass dividing walls so there is visibility through the building. Within this theatre, each individual venue is given its own signature personality with its unique name inspired by the horse racing tradition.
The entry doors are treated as signposts to welcome guest into the energetic restaurant or bar experience. The corners of the interiors spaces are carefully positioned to face the Winning Post, with low seating to offer uninterrupted and maximised views of the track. The Betting Ring has always been 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 pavilion canopies also provide a covered entry for Members before their arrival into The Club Stand.
GROUND LEVEL THE LOBBY
The impressive canopied entrance creates a truly ceremonial arrival experience and sense of occasion. The central interior ‘promenade’ provides a clear line of sight and passage to the action of the Members Lawn and the racing track. The twin Lobby Lounges are located directly beyond the Grand Central Stair. Celebrating the essence, the 154-year history and tradition of the Club, the impressive archive of equine artworks and memorabilia is showcased behind bespoke glass cabinets, while majestic fireplaces and comfortable leather lounges generates a warm and hospitable ambience that encourages social interactions amongst Members.
GREEN ROOM, THE BAKERY and THE ARBOUR
The Green Room is a flexible, multipurpose space for sponsors, media and VIPs with a dedicated powder room, shower and storage facility. The Bakery is a light, contemporary café that activates the northern terrace and presents Members with exceptional breakfast options. The Bakery is a social gathering hub, which opens onto a terrace and leads to the Betting Ring. The Arbour is a contemporary, upmarket food court. The design pays homage to the great Flemington traditions of grounds keeping and gardening, and references the iconic rose arbours, synonymous with the arrival experience at Flemington Racecourse.
The Lawn Bar is an open and informal walk-up bar, located on the northern perimeter of the ground floor, with an enviable trackside vantage point. An operable façade via the terrace area, allows patrons easy access from the Members Lawn. The Courtyard Bar is located on the ground floor and serves the active domain of the Betting Ring. An openable facade allows patrons to seamlessly transition from the interior to the exterior. The Paddock Bar is situated on the western perimeter of the ground floor, adjacent to the Mounting Yard and the Owners and Trainers Stand and opens out to the terrace. Designed for the true racing enthusiast, the key decorative elements of this bar celebrate both racing culture and the robust aesthetics of the stables.
The Mumm Champagne Bar is the landmark destination for celebration at Flemington. The iconic sabrage ritual takes place here, entertaining and engaging patrons with the highly memorable celebration of champagne. The bar also features an openable façade on the trackside and an outdoor terrace. Freestanding pavilions create sculptural enclosures within the architectural volumes. With exceptional views towards the track, Mounting Yard and Members Lawn, the Members Bar embodies the ethos and traditions of the Club. From this bar, Members also enjoy access to the Committee Room foyer, The Forum and Betting Ring via a walkway.
The Dining Room is a refined and elegant establishment that offers a traditional racing experience for guests. Warm and welcoming, the space interior evokes a sense of familiarity while creating a new tradition in The Club Stand. The Furlong Bar is styled with a contemporary summer country club aesthetic. This bar is crafted to appeal to a new generation of racing enthusiast. Generous club lounges, and a spectacular leather bar create a genuine club ambience. The space opens to an outdoor terrace and tiered seating, with a link bridge to the Forum level of the Grandstand.
The Byerley is the premium fine dining destination at Flemington that will be a worthy partner to the finest culinary experiences. Named after the Byerley Turk, the earliest of three stallions that were the founders of the modern thoroughbred horse racing bloodstock, the room is primed for a superior race day experience with stunning views over the Mounting Yard and track from an exclusive outdoor terrace. On the eastern wing of the Club Stand is Straight Six – a contemporary bistro serving gourmet share plates in a communal dining space. Centrally located between The Byerley and Straight Six, Bluegrass Bar offers an exclusive, signature bar experience serving premium beverages and cocktails. A bay window lounge with ‘box-seat’ views to the track and the city skyline beyond complements the bar.
THE ROOF GARDEN
The Roof Garden is a spectacular new destination, with exceptional views of the course and Melbourne’s city skyline. The Roof Garden embodies the essence and spirit of a marquee at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. This aspirational, multipurpose venue is an elevated architectural pavilion with seamless thresholds between the interior and exterior. The façade can be opened to invite Members onto the expansive timber-decked and hard paved terraces complete with curated landscaped gardens. Source by Bates Smart Architects.
- Location: Flemington, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
- Architect: Bates Smart Architects
- Client: Victoria Racing Club
- Area: 18,000 sqm
- Completion: 2018
- Photographs: Ethan Rohloff, Peter Clarke, Sean Fennessey, Courtesy of Bates Smart Architects
Article by Marco Rinaldi