A huge palace in St Mark’s Square in Venice that has not been open to the public for 500 years is set to be turned into an exhibition and conference space by Sir David Chipperfield, with 2020 scheduled as the reopening date.
Following an international competition, the Italian insurance company Generali selected David Chipperfield Architects Milan to repair and reconfigure the Procuratie Vecchie on the Piazza San Marco in Venice, as the headquarters for its new social foundation, The Human Safety Net. For the first time, large parts of the building will be accessible to the public for exhibitions and events.
Completed in the sixteenth century by Jacopo Sansovino, the Procuratie Vecchie dominates the north side of St Mark’s Square. As the city’s earliest public building in the Classical style, it established the architectural language of the square, but centuries of modifications from multiple occupancy have severely compromised its internal structure.
According to David Chipperfield Architects Milan, the project will reunify the interiors of the Procuratie and introduce clarity to the building, establishing suitable spaces for the foundation, as well as improving circulation. DCA Milan is also involved in a longer-term plan to create a public route through the Procuratie Nuove to the Giardinetti Reali on the Grand Canal, the restoration of which is also being funded by Generali.
The building occupies one side of St Mark’s Square, stretching for 500ft along the piazza that Napoleon once famously called “the drawing room of Europe.”
Commenting on the building Sir David said: “This is a building with a monumental presence in a monumental square which the whole world loves. It is part of the only big civic space in Venice. It’s got an amazingly theatrical presence. Behind this fantastic facade is a much more jumbled building, and the building has been modified over time, for practical and technical reasons. And through those modifications it has lost some of its character integrity, some of its history. Really, the challenge is to sort it out a bit, tidy it up and get it back into a better shape."
As part of Chipperfield's renovations of the Procuratie Vecchie, the familiar facade by Jacopo Sansovino, which continues on two other sides of the piazza, will remain untouched.