Sandown Racecourse Grandstand

In a previous post about the Australian High Commission in KL, Malaysia, I referred to Sandown Racecourse Grandstand as one of the projects that Bernard Joyce worked on early in his architectural career.

Sandown Racecourse, located in the south-eastern Melbourne suburb of Springvale, officially opened in 1965 as a venue for both horse and motor racing. The new grandstand was designed by Bogle Banfield & Associates, the architectural firm at which Bernard Joyce was then working. The 366 meter long structure provided seating for up to 10,000 spectators and featured a spectacular cantilevered roof constructed in steel reinforced concrete. Enclosed bars and dining rooms overlooked the external seating area from the main brick body of the structure, with all levels accessed via wide internal flights of concrete stairs. The stairwells and restroom areas were well illuminated with natural light provided by a large glazed curtain wall above a broad open aperture. An overall structural lightness was enhanced by the use of exposed beams thrusting out beyond the leading edge of the grandstand roof, lending a dramatic skyward momentum to the form. It also architecturally focussed the purpose of the building as structure for outward viewing of the events presented in front of it.

Bogle Banfield & Associates was responsible for a number of subsequent projects around Melbourne that utilised raw concrete in the Brutalist manner including the Total House office and car park (1965) on which Bernard Joyce acted as project architect. His experiences with both this and the Sandown grandstand later informed many of the design elements and forms he incorporated into the Perak Turf Club project in Malaysia.

Although Sandown Racecourse, or Ladbrokes Park as it is now known, continues as a popular venue for both horse and motor racing its future is in doubt as housing developers eye the valuable suburban land on which it sits. The current landowner, the Melbourne Racing Club, has increasingly been diversifying its investments in recent years, including forays into property development, which could seal the fate of the racecourse and its iconic grandstand.



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