Jang Rony ~ Entrepreneurial Architect Who Formulated Innovative Projects and Services
Location: Aesler Head Office
At just 32 years of age, Jang Rony Yuwono has emerged as one of Indonesia’s most exciting architects and urban designers. His ideas are helping shape iconic buildings such as the Sky Suites, the tallest building in Mega Kuningan and the 70th story International Commerce Center in SCBD.
But what drives Jang Rony is creating community spaces where people can come together to play, interact and socialize. Following in the footsteps of his role model, the legendary Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Mohammad Hadid, Jang Rony is not only reshaping Indonesia’s urban landscape but also redefining urban living.
His company, Aesler Grup International will be the first architectural design firm to list on the Indonesian Stock Exchange in 2020. Peak Indonesia caught up with the extremely busy young architect for an exclusive interview.
How did you get interested in architecture and design?
Since I was young, as young as in elementary school, I remember going to Changi airport and I was amazed by the magnificent building. At that moment I decided that I wanted to become a person behind successful buildings. Every time I travel to countries such as Singapore, Korea and Japan, I am always amazed by their iconic buildings. When we travel abroad, the first thing we noticed is the buildings, so they become the face of the country. At that moment I realized that Indonesia needs those kinds of iconic buildings that become the face of the country that people will recognize.
So you wanted to design iconic buildings?
Yes that was partly the reason. But I also like to hang out in squares, which are big empty spaces were people can meet, exercise or just relax. You can see how people interact and socialize, where the young and the old can mix; where people from different races can come together to sing or practice a violin. I saw such community interaction in other countries and I wished to bring that concept to Indonesia.
This is also part of urban design and we are now involved in creating such public spaces in Indonesia. This is the foundation of a harmonious society. Buildings can be unifying factor between different races, ethnic groups and cultures or they can be separators. Urban planners therefore play an important role in how a country sticks together.
Where did you study architecture?
I studied in Petra Christian University in Surabaya. I completed by Bachelor degree there and soon after graduating, I went to China with some friends to work there.
You may ask why China? The reason is because at that time, China was undergoing tremendous urban renewal and economic growth. New cities were emerging and one particular city, Wuhan, which at that time was still a third tier city, was expanding fast. Investors were attracted to Wuhan because of its position as a transport hub and a convergence point between North and South as well between East and West.
Because of that, there were many industrial and commercial buildings coming up and many foreigners from France, US, Africa, Australia began moving there. The city experienced a sudden growth spurt and it needed good planners. So together with two of my partners, we went there to offer planning solutions and secured some government projects. We learned a great deal, especially how to build a city from ground up and we created new prototypes. Today Wuhan is one of the most successful cities in the world and coincidentally, its population is the same as Jakarta but it is 10 times bigger in area.
That was a testing ground for me before I started to formulate my ideas on urban planning.
So Wuhan became the launch pad for your company?
Yes both for my architectural design firm as well as my investment company. When I was in China, I learned how to finance buildings, not just design them, from the many foreigners who were very keen to invest in China’s property sector. They injected new ideas of how to grow a city’s economy, especially in Wuhan.
Were you involved in designing any major iconic buildings in Wuhan?
Yes we were involved in designing a number of government buildings, including a major police station, which was located in the main square. We were also involved in a project that included redeveloping old houses into a modern apartment building where the residents enjoyed a much better lifestyle. So we not only designed new buildings but we transformed the lives of not only the people who lived in the new building but also those who invested in the project.
You have achieved significant success in a short period of time. When did you establish your business?
We first established JRY studios in 2010 when I was working in China. In 2017, we changed the name to Aesler Grup International because we wanted the company not just to represent one person but a trusted brand such as ICBC Bank where many people work together. In this way, it will not just be dependent on me but we can establish Aesler in other parts of the world and people will recognize and remember the brand.
And in choosing the name Aesler, it is an anagram for the word easel which is a supporting structure for paintings. We juggled the words and put an “r” behind it to accentuate the person who stated the company. So Aesler is a supporting platform for investors, assets, whether it’s land or a masterplan that supports all our activities.
Aesler is involved in a major project that will redefine urban living in Jakarta over the next few years. How do you see the future of housing in Jakarta?
We are trying to make the city and the world a better place. Currently we are working on a prototype design for affordable housing which are high-rise, rather than single story houses. We want private developers to view this segment as an attractive segment for them but at the same time providing high quality affordable housing for the people of Jakarta. Our technology solution will allow for faster turnaround which means property developers get their investment back quicker and we can provide better and more affordable homes for the people.
We hope that our first major breakthrough can be seen and appreciated by the government because we want to prove that the private sector can play a constructive role by developing a template that works.
Aesler has also recently won a project to transform all public bus and train terminals across Indonesia. Can you explain what this project hopes to achieve?
We are using the same technology that we developed for affordable housing and applying it to bus and train terminals. Currently such public facilities have a bad reputation for safety and hygiene and investors are reluctant to finance them. The government is now asking the private sector to help and Aesler is working on a design that will make such facilities safer, cooler and more comfortable.
We will start by changing the name from a terminal to a City Hub where we will incorporate food outlets, hotels, retail spaces and even meeting areas. The first such City Hub will be launched in January 2020 by President Joko Widodo in Sukabumi with the first phase of the project transforming 20 terminals. In total there are 150 such terminals across the country and we want to make such projects sexy for local developers, banks and the public.
These City Hubs can also act as gateways for tourists visiting the city or region and act as attractions for the area.
With these projects, my ultimate goal is to create fluidity between communities in a way that enhances urban landscapes and promotes healthy living.