Piano’s influence in China is only just beginning. His first project in Mainland China is set in the scenic city of Hangzhou. The project began in 2014 with the founder of JNBY (which stands for Just Naturally Be Yourself) having interest in working Piano on the new space. The brand has close to 2,000 stores including in China and the United States. JNBY sells fashionable clothing at affordable price points. Since its IPO status in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, it has raised approximately $103 million according to sources.1 The headquarters will be central to private offices that are livable and inspired by the historically-renowned city of Hangzhou.
Designing the headquarters for the garment and fashion company with semi-private gated communities in China, the Renzo Piano team brought in over 20 Italian translators to support the construction and design.2 Besides being an office space, the site holds an art gallery, art center, event space, and designer shops. The “Urban Park” situated within the large complex is meant to provide pedestrian access and a place for gathering.3 It was completed in October of 2020.4
Inspired by the greenhouse rooftops in California, the team decided to bring in tea trees to this concrete complex and have more greenery on the exterior facade of the office buildings.5 The architectural firm has thought deeply about the subtropical and rainy weather of Hangzhou and so decided to create this green plant facade.6 Again this decision is another example of the thoughtfulness and attention to the environment of the project itself. Hangzhou is known for his green hills and tea plantations and the complex represents an ode to this beautiful city. They have chosen Dragon’s Well tea trees, which is the specialty of the area, also known as longjing.
Every year, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop also brings in students from around the world, including China, to train them on the job. In an interview with a Tsinghua University publication, Piano shared that passion cannot be taught and must be shown. We await the fruits of their Workshop’s labour in training the next generation through “bottega” – a way to learn by doing, to quote Piano.
- 探访伦佐·皮亚诺江南布衣杭州总部 by 孙凌波. Shi jie jian zhu, ISSN 1002-4832, 2015, Issue 4, pp. 20 – 23