Legendary sports company Nike has dominated the headlines for its dedication to a zero carbon and zero waste future. One project at a time, they have drawn attention to sustainable actions and corporate responsibility when it comes to protecting the environment. The latest move, a community playground and basketball area located in New Belgrade, Serbia, showcases the company’s mission to encourage physical activity while providing education about ways to develop infrastructure in less impactful ways.
Nike partnered with London-based creative agency Accept & Proceed, who they had previously worked with on Nike’s “Move to Zero” initiative. As a certified B Corporation studio, Accept & Proceed designed the renewal of Block 70, a historical area that saw the rise of several professional players in basketball. Community pride in this connection is seen in the “BLOK 70,” printed in original typeface, on the surface of the courtyard. Accept & Proceed came up with the plans for the court design, children’s playground, bleacher benches, chain link fence, outdoor gym, collection bins, in-store campaign presence and restoration of existing elements.
“With Nike Belgrade, we evolved the visual language we had developed for Nike’s ‘Move to Zero’ identity by incorporating bespoke Serbian lettering in the court markings to celebrate New Belgrade’s local community,” said Nigel Cottier, Accept & Proceed’s principal designer. “We had an interesting exercise that challenged our thinking of spaces for sport: what if we break down the essential ingredients of a basketball court and reimagine the traditional court layout? How can we create a fun and unexpected space, whilst retaining legibility and playability? It was fascinating to come up with the different elements of lettering that can inform another function, like a free throw or half court line, and even more exciting to think that the design will not only inform the players’ movements, but influence the community spirit and energy of Block 70.”
With a focus on community and activity, the park reflects the need to be environmentally conscious through the use of 20,000 recycled sneakers in the mix. In fact, the community was involved in the program all along with collection spaces for citizens to drop used shoes. At the drop sites, the community could see the steps involved in transforming the shoes into a material that could be used for the surface of the resulting basketball court and playground.
“It’s no understatement that helping the world’s best sports brand with its sustainability initiative makes me feel immensely proud of the work we’re doing at Accept & Proceed,” said Matthew Jones, Accept & Proceed’s creative director. “Our visual identity for Nike’s ‘Move to Zero’ brand came to life within our court and playground design in New Belgrade and I feel incredibly inspired to know that design, community and responsibility towards our planet were all integral elements in this project. Moreover, to witness and be part of the meaningful connections between Nike and local communities shows a new way forward, especially for the role of designers — a sowing of the seeds for an active future and better tomorrow.”
Photography by Rastko Šurdić