Basketball courts can be powerful places in a neighborhood. To work out and relax, but they also play an important role in creating connections between people, both between the players and the bystanders watching the game. For children it can be a place to learn about teamwork, and winning and losing, and develop cognitive abilities. These urban courts need to be celebrated and lately we see many around the world turn into true pieces of art.
It is important to remember that just making a beautiful court is not enough. Urban sports facilities, just like any other public space, cannot be monofunctional. They need to be co-created with the local community and offer to visitors more than just a place to throw a ball. At Humankind we integrate courts as part of an inclusive and inviting public space. When we make sure to have sitting places, other sports and play facilities, and more attractions in the public realm, then a great design is the cherry on top.
Probably the most famous art court is the Paris Duperré basketball court, created by French design agency Ill-Studio and fashion brand Pigalle, with support from Nike. The court is squeezed between buildings on Rue Duperré, and became internationally renowned for its previous design, painted in graphical blocks of primary colors. First decorated in 2009 by Nike and Pigalle founder Stephane Ashpool, the court has been since redesigned multiple times.
New York City, USA
Another art court initiated by Nike is created by KAWS. The famed Brooklyn artist worked alongside the official New York City Parks and Recreation Department to transform the Stanton Street Basketball Courts.
In the city of Aalst, Belgium, muralist Katrien Van der Linden created a captivating, geometric composition. The artist worked alongside the youth department of the council of Aalst. Located between a grammar school and relief center for minor refugees, it became a space where people can gather, and children can play with new life and energy.
In the northern Italian city of Turin, truly, a group of urban artists working, has designed a colorful basketball court that contains an optical illusion. When viewed from a specific point on the court, the words ‘growth’ and ‘rhythm’ become visible.
An amazing initiative is the non-profit Project Backboard, initiated by former college basketball player Daniel Peterson who noticed the neglected state of several basketball courts scattered around the city. He started updating courts across Memphis, not just improving the courts, but generating excitement in surrounding neighborhoods for their public parks. It is not art for the sake of art, created by great artists like Nick Dahlen and William LaChance. The courts are designed by artists who have a connection to the park or city and in collaboration with the neighborhood.