Client: Generali Real Estate
Architectural design: David Chipperfield Architects, David Chipperfield, Giuseppe Zampieri, Cristiano Billia. Associati: Adolfo Berardozzi, Andrea Cocco, Carlo Zucchia
Interior, Exhibition & Multimedia Design: Migliore+Servetto Architects
Progetto strutturale: Arup
Consulente illuminotecnico: Viabizzuno
Photo: Alberto Parise, Alessandra Chemollo, Richard Davies, Andrea Martiradonna
The architectural rigor and excellence of the buildings on the most famous square in Venice have always conveyed a sense of order and stability for the people of the city, while representing the image of Venice in the world. One of these monuments is the Procuratie Vecchie: originally a single-story structure, first built in the 12th century over a long arcade along the northern side of the square, and then reconstructed after a fire in 1512, as part of a vast urban renewal program, the so-called renovatio urbis ordered by the Doge Gritti. That project, involving architects like Mauro Codussi, Bartolomeo Bon and Jacopo Sansovino, transformed Piazza San Marco from a medieval center to a Renaissance forum, leading to subsequent extensions that set the tone of an ancient-modern language – a façade with arches and loggias – that was then applied to later developments of the Procuratie on the other western and southern sides of the Piazza.
After 500 years of closure, and restoration that took 5 years, sustained by Assicurazioni Generali, which had its Italian headquarters there until 1989, the doors of the Procuratie Vecchie have been opened to the public, revealing a new facility for the foundation known as The Human Safety Net (THSN) of Gruppo Generali on the upper level, a hub for social initiatives and for assistance to fulfill the potential to the most fragile, vulnerable components of our society. Starting with children and refugees.
The recovery and reconfiguration of the 12,400 square meters of the Procuratie Vecchie have been carried out by David Chipperfield and the studio David Chipperfield Architects Milan. The project began in 2019 with the first and second floors, the reorganization of access and use of the building, through the insertion of new staircases and the renovation of the central entrance to the third floor, with access to the raised courtyards.
The program called not only for recovery of the age-old image of the building, eliminating additions made in more recent times, but also for new permeability between the interiors and the external area of the square. The Venetian character can be seen in the contents and materials, and the connections to the city on multiple levels, starting with the view of Piazza San Marco.
Particular priority has been assigned, in fact, to the 100 16th-century oculi running along an entire floor, granting the site a pictorial impact that goes beyond the direct relationship with the city that has absorbed cultures from all over the world. In some of these openings, the view has been boosted by the use of a technological magnifying system, which like the optical machines of Canaletto allows visitors to plunge into the life of the city, through a new way of interacting. Furthermore, the installation Window on Venice enables visitors to make a leap in time, with 3D explorations of certain locations in the 1500s, including the island of Giudecca, the Rialto Bridge, the Arsenale, Burano and Murano.
The installation and the entire Interior, Exhibition & Multimedia Design project, addressing the whole upper level and the reception areas on the ground floor, are by the studio Migliore+Servetto, with artistic direction by Davide Rampello. The partitions and furnishings of the spaces, all designed by the Milan-based firm, establish a dialogue with the existing structures, enhancing the majestic subdivision of the architectural volumes and reinforcing the deep Venetian roots through the use of materials: glass, copper, wood, mirrors.
The characteristic Venetian bricole form the support structure of the installation for the exhibit pathway for team working; the benches of the café, in natural wood, resemble those of historic Venetian venues; the patterns of the carpets rework traditional motifs.
Along with the design of the interiors of the entire THSN facility, the interactive installations and the multimedia content of the exhibition, Migliore+Servetto have contributed environmental and wayfinding graphics to accompany and guide visitors. The firm has also worked on the selection of the contents of the Art Studio, the temporary exhibition space inside the visit itinerary.