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Chipperfield gets the go-ahead to restore Venice’s historic Procuratie Vecchie

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David Chipperfield Architects has won planning permission to overhaul an iconic 16th-century building overlooking St Mark’s Square in Venice

The 2011 Royal Gold Medallist will deliver a major restoration of the landmark Procuratie Vecchie complex, which is the city’s longest building and occupies the entire northern side of the world-famous square.

The 12,400m² project – backed by the building’s former occupier, Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali – will open the four-storey structure to the public for the first time in 500 years.

Chipperfield’s restoration will transform the 150m-long Procuratie Vecchie into a new base for The Human Safety Net Foundation, a philanthropic institution helping refugees and other vulnerable people.

The scheme will create new offices, exhibition spaces and an auditorium on the third floor of the building, which boasts a colonnade of 52 stone arches at ground level. The first and second floors will meanwhile be restored, while new staircases and access to the building’s raised courtyards will also be created.

Luigi Brugnaro, mayor of Venice said: ‘I really want to express my gratefulness to the Assicurazioni Generali and David Chipperfield Architects for having contributed to this extremely prestigious project, a perfect fit for the heart of the city of Venice, creating a working environment with professionals from all over the world.

‘A fine example of public private partnership, conducted according to the principle of subsidiarity. This synergy has two fundamental aspects: it develops employment in the heart of the historic city and it is an investment of high social value.Venice is a symbol for Italy and, if we manage to demonstrate that we can offer young people a future in our city of Venice, we are sending a strong signal to the whole country.’

David Chipperfield said: ‘Working on this remarkable building with a client so committed to Venice continues to be a great privilege. Over the last two years we have come to better understand and respect the complexities of the building hidden behind its grand public façade.

‘In adapting the building to accommodate a more public programme for The Human Safety Net, we have sought to balance the infrastructural requirements with restoration and refurbishment of the historic fabric. We are driven by the ambition to both re-unify the architectural work, as well as the identity of the building as a place of work, meeting and discussion for the city.’

The architect was appointed to the job in 2017, five years after he curated the Venice Biennale of Architecture as its 13th director. The project will also create a new link between St Mark’s Square and the nearby Royal Gardens.

The Procuratie Vecchie is part of a complex of Venetian government buildings which surround the square. The structure – designed by Bartolomeo Bon and Jacopo Sansovino – is joined by the Procuratie Nuove to the south and a Napoleonic-era wing to the west.

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