Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject

Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject
Mar 15, 2011 RUFproject, with Nike Global Football, brings Soweto, South Africa a central hub for its professional football athletes

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Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_01 Located in the center Klipspruit region of Soweto, South Africa, the 4,200-sq.-ft. Football Training Center annually hosts 20,000 footballers from 1,200 football teams in a one-stop facility for training, education, and communal gathering, complete with two full-sized and junior-sized artificial field pitches.
Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_02 “Our design approach is very much functionally driven, such that the design can be understood as a container that rigorously wraps thought through the user experience,” details Sean Pearson, MRAIC, director at RUFproject. Pearson lead the project, collaborating with Nike Global Football’s creative director Andy Walker and designer Kevin Koatman, to develop an concept that plays on the idea of shared and interconnected space.
Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_03 Facility programs are linked both visually and physically via cutouts in the wall structure, allowing each section of the building to converse with the other areas. This interconnected design allows for a selective transparency into the facility’s various functions as the footballers go about their daily routines.

Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_04 Outside, the sandstone and timber façade features a louver structure that allows light and views into the stairwells and visa versa and serves to mitigate solar heat on the west, north, and east façades. As the sun moves throughout the sky each day, the overlapping materials play with reflection and shadow patterns, evoking the beauty of the South African landscape.

Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_05 The gym, product trial, and catering spaces open up to the exterior to provide players with direct access from the fields, while the player’s tunnel that bisects the main building forms a convenient pathway from the changing rooms to the pitch.
Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_06 Inside, the center features a purposefully limited palette of raw, straightforward materials—including concrete, stone, timber, and steel—to generate natural warmth. “It was critical that the building have soul and resist the typical, concrete-block bunker that often is the case with sports facilities,” Pearson says.
Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_07 In the chic players lounge, players gain inspiration from tips and tricks from Nike athletes and coaches, as well as images of professional athletes on the walls. Interior installations in this main hall add pops of color to the neutral tones in a dynamic juxtaposition that highlights the area’s function.
Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_08 The brightly hued changing rooms emphasize this concept and further provide motivational quotations to inspire. “We really wanted to capture the incredible diversity and creativity apparent throughout Soweto, and in a way deconstruct the idealized box with the richness of the materiality and the graphic language,” Pearson says.
Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_09 Additionally, classrooms provide learning space for the players to gain knowledge on initiatives such as the Lace Up Save Lives campaign, Grassroots Soccer, and LIFE SKILLZ programs, as well as health issues like HIV awareness and prevention.
Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_10 A first aid facility and rooftop viewing deck round out the amenities provided at the center.
Soweto Football Training Center by RUFproject_11 After walking the building, Pearson reflects that it is evident that the facility has been organized and designed for the player. “My favourite moment was standing there the first time when the facility was really being used, to see the kids fill up the fields, inhabit the spaces, and make it their own,” he says. “You can see the design interweave such ideas as  community, learning, health, aspiration, hope, pride, and excellence into the design.”