As a former semi-pro football player, I do pay attention to brands or organizations that contribute to make football a better sport. 3 years ago, Nike launched the Nike Football Training Center Soweto that hosts more than 20,000 footballers each year. The intent of the project was to provide a lasting home for football in the dynamic community of Soweto that would continue on after the World Cup. Take a look.
The Football Training Centre Soweto has been designed by RUF project and is located in Soweto, South Africa. The project was designed in conjunction with Nike Global Football Brand Design and has wooden louvres wrapping the upper parts of the structure.
The concept was to create a clear but also intricately woven relationship between spaces, by connecting the programmes of the facility visual and physically. The football facility combines multiple fields, training and locker rooms, offices, a gym, a kitchen and more in a building encased in wooden louvers and sandstone.
Even though they had such a short time to complete the facility, RUFproject still managed to throw in a lot of sustainable design strategies, including energy-efficient passive solar design.
The project, conceptualised by NIKE designers, was a product of international collaboration. DesignSpaceAfrica being the local architects, had the important task of translating the design to the specific South African design and construction parameters in the spirit of Nike Designers: RUF Project(Sean Pearson) and Andy Walker (Nike Brand Manager/Designer).
Nike designers also commissioned very talented local and international designers and artists to produce artwork and graphics of a very high standard.
The Football Training Centre. Soweto was an existing football training ground for approximately 1200 youth clubs under the administration of Soweto Football Association.
The objective for the new centre was to refurbish the centre and transform it into a state of the art high-performance and life skills centre for the development of football, particularly for the youth in Soweto. The facility has now become the most successful and utilized venue for International Youth soccer competitions in South Africa.
The facility has been designed from the outset for and around the player, supporting the various aspects of their training. The concept was to create a clear but intricately woven relationship of spaces with transparency between functions, such that views between spaces to and from other areas of the building are established. Everything has been considered to make the facility flow and remain “open” while managing the reality of creating a secure and safe place to play football.
The juxtaposition of these natural materials against the harsh context and Highveld climate also helped to maximise the intended dramatic quality.
The biggest challenge was the 5 month contract period. In order to achieve this, a steel structural system, combined with concrete retaining walls was chosen for speed as well as flexibility and to mitigate contextual constraints.
Needless to say, the project was completed on schedule, and launched before the 2010 FIFA World Cup which commenced in June. [Sources: Designpaceafrica.com & Designalmic.com]
Nike also involved its newly signed football asset Manchester City to reinforce their commitment to sporting development in the country.