Cheltenham Racecourse, home to the world famous Gold Cup horse race, is undergoing an extensive $45 million redevelopment which will see the construction of a second state-of-the-art grandstand created out of a bespoke steel and precast concrete hybrid.
The development has been designed by Roberts Limbrick Architects with Furness Partnership serving as the structural engineers.
The focus of the ambitious project revolves around one of the finest Parade Rings in the UK at the northern end of the racecourse, replacing some of the oldest existing buildings which no longer meet the needs and aspirations of racegoers in the 21st century.
The scheme includes the new 6,500 capacity Grandstand, with bars and venues for club members, A&R members, annual members and owners and trainers, along with 12 new hospitality boxes and a new Royal Box, capped by a spectacular Premium Super Club on the sixth floor.
Evans Concrete Products will produce and install the unique hybrid precast concrete and steel solution, which will be used to build the crescent walkway and horse walk bridge and create a parade ring viewing area. Evans will also be responsible for the precast concrete balcony walkways and grandstand terracing, which will sit alongside the existing seating.
Installing the deck slabs for the crescent walkway and horse walk bridge will be no minor feat considering each slab weighs in at 21 tonnes. These are in addition to the balcony walkway units which measure eight metres by two metres long, 325 millimetres thick and weigh 12.7 tonnes
"It is a very challenging design, using bespoke, architectural precast concrete and combining it with traditional steel structures," said Chris Foster, managing director at Evans Concrete Products.
Precast concrete will provide a number of benefits to contractor Kier. Precast can be installed immediately, there is no waiting for it to gain strength, and the modularity of precast products makes installation quicker.
From a life cycle perspective, with the ability to so tightly control the process, from materials to consolidation to curing, the result is an extremely durable concrete.
The racecourse has been at its current venue since 1831 and is expected to be there for many more years to come. Visitor numbers over the four days of the festival in March are expected to reach 235,000, and significant effort has gone into major improvements in visitor comfort and crowd movement. These include the dramatic, floating, raised deck which sweeps around the Parade Ring, creating an amphitheatre-like double layer for viewing and circulation.
Other improvements that have been integrated into the strategic layout and landscaped setting include major new toilets, a re-routed horse walk, a new plaza, a refurbished weighing room and a completely revitalised bar.
The project is scheduled to start on site immediately following the 2014 festival. It is expected to take approximately 22 months, with the first design aspects to be ready for June 2014, and the installation to begin in July 2014.