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C2鈥?Jing鈥檃n Tuesday 31 October 2017鈥?Shanghai Daily Historic downtown villa opens to the public Li Qian The Rong Villa returns to its former glory after a six-year renovation highlighted by stunning staircases, a stained-glass skylight and well-appointed furnishings. 鈥?Jiang Xiaowei Ahistoric downtown villa, open to the public for the first time occupancy several times, housing the 鈥淚t鈥檚 rare that a historic building is original construction materials was in nearly a century, has drawn China Economic Research Institute and used by one single company,鈥?he said. time-consuming. long queues of people waiting then as the offices of media tycoon Ru- 鈥淯sually, such buildings are subdivided for the chance to get in and explore an pert Murdoch. In 2011, the Italian luxury for use by multiple companies, which 鈥淲e had to ask skilled Italian crafts- icon of local heritage. brand Prada took over tenancy. is bad in terms of historical preserva- men to repair some of the broken pieces tion. It is necessary to open this site to and even make new ones in the old way,鈥? The three-story Rong Villa at 186 The Jing鈥檃n District government the general public. Prada is doing it the he said. Shaanxi Road N. is the former residence sought help from the business sector to right way.鈥?of Rong Zongjing (1873-1938), an indus- preserve the historic building, and Prada The highlight of the ballroom is a trial tycoon from Wuxi of Shanghai鈥檚 stepped to the fore, citing its experiences Zheng estimated that the cost of the 45-square-meter stained-glass skylight, neighboring Jiangsu Province who built in restoring old buildings in Italy. project to Prada ran into the hundreds of comprising 69 glass panels. It features a commercial empire in China. The site millions of yuan. No figures have been Art Deco lines and typical Greek orna- underwent restoration work for six years 鈥淚t鈥檚 a grand villa of about 2,000 square made public. mental laurel wreaths. The skylight was before finally being opened for public meters,鈥?said Prada Chief Executive Pa- severely damaged over the years. Broken viewing. trizio Bertelli. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a rare site and has a Prada spent three years on research, and missing pieces were replaced with big garden area.鈥? including collecting ideas on how to vintage glass made in Germany in 1940. Rong and his younger brother Rong combine its corporate culture with the Desheng became magnates in flour and Yes, it pays to have a group like Prada, history of the villa and the Rong family. When restoring a bedroom with enam- textiles. His nephew Rong Yiren, who with its deep pockets, as a partner in Great efforts were made to find original el tiles instead of wooden panels on the served as vice president of China from such a project. Concerns were initially documents and construction materials. walls, Italian craftsmen replicated old, 1993-98, founded the China Internation- raised that the renovated site would be traditional skills to make new ones in al Trust & Investment Corp in 1979 and reserved only for prominent guests and During the work, a secret family safety the same pattern. became known as the 鈥淩ed Capitalist.鈥? would be commercialized as a promo- box was found under paneling. tional venue for Prada products. The restoration has won plaudits Rong Zongjing bought the Shanghai 鈥淭hese are elements of life as it was, from the current generation of the Rong grand garden villa from a German in 鈥淥f course, we will promote our own and we want them preserved,鈥?cultural family. 1918. Its classic Beaux Arts-style facade products here, with events like fashion official Qian Wei said. has been maintained, while the interior shows,鈥?Bertelli said. 鈥淏ut we also will John Yung, great grandson of Rong decor by Eclectic & Art Deco Styles re- stage public activities and exhibitions. Craftsmen from China and Italy Zongjing, said, 鈥淚鈥檝e heard that many big tains traditional Chinese elements. Young people should be given access to worked together to give the historic villa names and celebrities used to gather at history and art.鈥? a new lease on life. our house, often attending parties held The family patriarch left Shanghai in in the ballroom. I can feel those old glory 1938 after refusing to cooperate with Designer Michael Rock, a member 鈥淕enerally, interior decor like glass, days now.鈥?Japanese occupation forces. Within a of the restoration team, said that the lighting and wall embellishments are month of relocating to Hong Kong, he project went beyond simply copying the preserved,鈥?said Zheng, who is also The restored villa will be open to the died of illness. past. a Tongji University professor. 鈥淏ut public Tuesdays through Saturdays until it doesn鈥檛 mean it was an easy job to December 17. Inside, an exhibition de- Over the years, the villa has changed 鈥淲e added some new meaning to it,鈥?he renovate. The villa was given the top pro- tails how the restoration was done. said. 鈥淲e have to understand it in a deep tection status by the city, which requires Italian craftsmen helped repair broken way and make it a global hybrid.鈥? no change in decor at all.鈥? To visit, reservations are required pieces of stained glass and restore through Prada鈥檚 official WeChat ac- missing ones authentically. Zheng Shiling, a history and architec- Architect Robert Baciocchi, who over- count: a pradawechat.fortytwo.com.cn/ 鈥?Jiang Xiaowei tural expert, praised the result. saw the restoration, said the search for Events/20170920/pc_cn.html.