As part of Nike’s commitment to developing the sport of basketball and inspiring future athletes in South Africa, the brand has rejuvenated one of the country’s original B’balling battle grounds– the Zoo Lake basketball courts. For the first time in Africa, Nike has turned iconic local courts into a magnificent artwork, echoing projects such as the Nike Hyper Court campaign in Manila.
For this project, Nike collaborated with two talented local artists in Faatimah Mohamed-Luke and Karabo Moletsane to create the new design of the Zoo Lake basketball courts. Combining elements from their own signature styles, the design is inspired by the concrete jungle of the Joburg city and brings a distinctly and proudly African narrative to the game.
Zoo Lake is located near the middle of the city and gets its name from the Johannesburg Zoo. It is surrounded by lush green parks that combine with the urban areas to create one of South Africa’s most vibrant and charismatic neighbourhoods. Consequently, the artwork draws on this concept of opposing forces.
Karabo designed two animals in battle, namely the crocodile (emerging from the lake) and the cheetah (emerging from the grasslands or the zoo). The crocodile is a symbol of resilience and adaption, since it lives in the water, breathes air, and has been around for centuries, while the cheetah symbolises speed and prowess as the fastest land mammal.
The animals are overlaid by geometric shapes designed by Faatimah which are inspired by natural elements. For instance the urban jungle is represented by a single icon – T – which is created by the crown and trunk of a tree. Through repetition, these shapes creates patterns and rhythms.
“I have never done any kind of surface design before, so to have my first one be with such an iconic brand was surreal,” says Mohamed-Luke. “I absolutely loved working on such a large scale and with an unusual surface.”
“Karabo and I really wanted to incorporate all the elements that are unique to Zoo Lake in an authentic African urban way, and to be given that creative freedom is a designer’s dream. Our design aesthetic could not be more different, but it’s amazing how well our colour palettes merged and I definitely think we rubbed off on each other creatively which resulted in something interesting and dynamic.”
This labour of love promotes self-expression and celebrates the artistry, authenticity, and youthfulness that exists within the sport of basketball. By leaving this legacy, the grounds can unearth the next-generation of basketball stars, right here in South Africa.
The courts will be revamped and handed to the basketball community during Nike’s Battle Force Joburg challenge starting on 25 November 2017. Battle Force is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that will see 32 teams competing for the ultimate baller bragging rights