Procuratie Vecchie On Venice’s Piazza San Marco To Be Restored
Due to be completed in 2020, the project will be a multi-million dollar undertaking for its owners, the Italian insurance company the Generali Group.
For five centuries the building has been closed to the public, reserved for politicians and royalty. But once David Chipperfield and his studio complete the restoration work, the palace will become a venue for art exhibitions, installations and seminars.
Built on top of stone arcades in the twelfth century, the Procuratie Vecchie runs along the north side of the iconic central square. At 152 meters long it is Venice's longest building.
The original two-storey structure burnt down and was replaced in the 1530s by a three-storey structure in the early Renaissance classical style. Once at the heart of Venetian government, the building still has original frescos and ornate ceilings from the days it was used by the nine governors who aided the Doge administer the city-state known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice.
At ground floor, the stone arcades are home to Venice's famous – and expensive – coffee shops, the oldest of which have been in situ since the 18th century.
The restoration will also include opening a hidden passageway between Piazza San Marco and the Royal Gardens. The park on the bank of the Grand Canal has lain abandoned for years but now there are plans to restore a wisteria-covered pergola and plant an orangery.
The unique location of Venice, a UNESCO World Heritage site, means all building materials will have to be bought in and out by boat along its canals.