Designed by the renowned architecture group, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, JNBY Headquarters, a.k.a., OōEli, is a Mega Complex located in Hangzhou, China, opened in October 2020. In addition to headquarters for the fashion brand JNBY, the complex also caters to several other functions such as spaces for events, art galleries, shops, and even a boutique hotel.
Project name: OōEli / JNBY Headquarters
Location: Hang Zhou, China
Date: 2013 – 2020
Site Area: 230,000 sqm
Client: Hui Zhan Technology (Hangzhou) Co, Ltd
Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Greentown Orient Architects (Hangzhou)
Consultants: Arup (structure, MEP, façade engineering and sustainability); Rana Creek (landscaping); JML (water features); Greentown Akin (landscaping LDI); GOA Lekong (Interior LDI)
Covering an area of over 230,000 square meters, the complex covers a large part of a superblock in the city. Superblocks are essentially 500m X 500m semi-private gated enclosures surrounded by heavy-traffic roads, up-and-coming in many of the newer cities in China.
Oriented in the north-south direction, this roughly trapezoidal-shaped site measures about 260m X 175m. Towards its south is a view of green vegetation surrounding the Yan Shan river. The thought process behind the design concept comes from the composition of an apple- a fruit with a firm outside, but a soft, rich inside. Therefore, the building blocks, a total of seventeen in number, are arranged around the edge of the site, and the central area is a protected green space measuring about 130m x 95m.
To create the central area as an “urban living room”, users are provided with the option to gather and relax in the area. One of its key features is a “Water Mirror Square” that consists of just a 2 cm thin layer of water, reflecting the sky, surrounding vegetation, and buildings. As one moves around, one can also observe the air movement reflected in the ebbs and flows of the water body. The central plaza also provides an atmosphere of relaxation through the eleven Zen Gardens designed by the monk and Zen garden expert Shunmyō Masuno, revolving around the themes of wind, water, and space. This central space is only accessible by pedestrians.
The position of the buildings surrounding this urban garden was determined through intense studies of the local winds and sunlight. The facades looking inwards are fitted with extra-clear glass to allow for a seamless view of the garden. On average, the buildings are about nine-stories high, and the top one to two stories are pushed backward. This allows for extra sunlight to enter the central plaza and users to experience a wider sky. Many voids have been created through the perimeter run of the buildings, allowing for views, air-flow, and natural daylight.
Functions such as the art gallery, event spaces, and shops have been strategically designed and positioned to reduce the singularity and monotony of the commercial office spaces, adding character and complexity to the building both functionally and visually.
The facades looking into the central garden have larger windows as well as some greenery planted onto them. This green facade serves two primary purposes. Firstly, it adds a sense of lightness to the heavy mass of these office buildings. Secondly, it also adds to, and improves the microclimate, and therefore the thermal performance of the building. The sub-tropical climate of Hangzhou is favorable to the growth of such vegetation. Also, motorized sun-shades optimize the thermal performance and daylighting in the building, therefore providing the best visual quality in office spaces in the day.
The other facades employ a combination of concrete, aluminum panels, and are fitted with fritted glass. It is the first building complex in China that employs these aluminum panels to such a large extent. They give an elegant appearance to the edifice by radiating a metallic luster, giving an illuminated view of the structures.
Three types of local tea, consisting of Anji White Tea, Zong Cha 108, and Long Jing 43, cover the roofs of the buildings. These have been selected amongst many other types for their ability to adapt to a wide variety of climatic conditions, and for their capacity to remain green for the larger part of the year. These roof plantations also help improve the micro-climate of the building by significantly reducing the heat island effect. They are also an ode to the tea-planted hills towards the south in Hangzhou.
The design by Renzo Piano Building Workshop attempts to create an ‘urban oasis’ that is green, full of art and culture, and therefore an important cultural space for the local people, while also being sustainable at the same time. After its completion, this mega-complex has already become an architectural marvel in the city and has set an example for how other future commercial spaces in the area can and should look like.