The Procuratie Vecchie was once home to the Procurators of Saint Mark, who, in addition to being senior city officials, were also responsible for looking after the poor and needy of Venice. Staying true to its original mission, the Procuratie Vecchie now fulfills these ambitions on a global scale. Today, it is a hub for people who are passionate about empowering the most vulnerable in society all around the world.
Beyond being one of the most recognisable squares in the world, Piazza San Marco is an extraordinary and explicit demonstration of ordered public space. The Procuratie Vecchie, which developed along the entire north side of the square, was designed by the architect Bartolomeo Bon and later by Jacopo Sansovino in the first half of the sixteenth century, under the renovatio urbis programme of Doge Andrea Gritti. It established the classical language adopted by the subsequent developments on the square.
The iconic building has been restored by David Chipperfield Architects Milan, converting it into a globally connected workplace, while retaining the character of its architecture.
The commission was to both renovate, unpick and make sense of generations of modification and practical adaptation, and to bring the buildings into a more engaged relationship with the city. The proposals will facilitate the activities of The Human Safety Net and, for the first time in 500 years, a large part of the Procuratie Vecchie will be made accessible to the public.
The project is not defined by a single concept or architectural gesture, but by a series of interventions that address the complexity of the work. These include the restoration of the first and second floors, the reorganisation of accessibility and usability of the building through the inclusion of new staircases, and the renovation of the central pavilion on the third floor leading to the exhibition spaces open to the public and linked to The Human Safety Net, as well as workspaces and an auditorium.
In the interventions, ancient and traditional local construction techniques, as well as local artisan labour (craftsmanship) were engaged for flooring, walling and ceiling using pastellone, terrazzo, marmorino and scialbatura (whitewashing) at lower levels, but also cocciopesto and cotto at top level, with the intent not to impose but rather to inherit, for completing what has been there for centuries in a single whole.