Nike Ballman Made of 3000 Soccer Balls For World Cup

nike ballman hero 2 IIHIH

Nike continues to impress with more of their interesting and artful projects for the 2010 World Cup. In addition to the fabulous carved crayons, a giant sculpture comprised of almost 3,000 footballs (that’s soccer balls for those of us in the US) designed by Leeds-based Ratcliffe Fowler Design hangs in the atrium of the Carlton Centre shopping mall in downtown Johannesburg.


Nike Ballman hero IIHIH

‘Ballman’ as he has become dubbed, is a World Cup project for the leading sportswear brand.

Prior to being sea freighted to South Africa, a complete Ballman test build took place at Magna, the Science Adventure Centre and steel visitor attraction in Rotherham, UK. This was one of the few places in the UK with enough room to host the operation, which was co-ordinated by the Magna technical team, Transmitta.


Summit’s project manager Jay Call studied the Carlton Centre’s structural plans and discovered that the atrium of the building has a 12 x 12m steel grid, complete with 5 beams, 3m apart. Summit then designed an aluminum mother grid to fly below this, which is picked up on 4 x 5 ton hoists.

Once the sub-structure was flown at its 15m trim height, the bottom was filled in with flat panels and clad with moulded polystyrene – all with 537 holes drilled exactly in the right places for the 2x steel wire drops. This completely conceals all the metalwork and rigging, giving the appearance of a solid ceiling with the Ballman ‘floating’ in the air.

Ballman will stay in place for the whole World Cup tournament period, and when dismantled, the intention is that the balls will be given away. Jay Call commented: “It was a great pleasure to be involved in this project, which was different, challenging and extremely rewarding, both as a feat of engineering and a creative work for public enjoyment.”

images and information courtesy of World Architecture News

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