Three connected buildings known as the Procuratie surround Saint Mark’s Square in Venice. The Procuratie Vecchie (Old Procuracies) are located to the north, the Napoleonic Wing lies to the west and the Procuratie Nuove (New Procuracies) lie to the south. They served as the residences and offices of the procurators of Saint Mark. These city officials held the second-highest positions in the Republic of Venice, second only to the doges (heads of state). Their task was to manage the assets of Saint Marks’ Basilica and entailed responsibility for executorships, foundations, city planning and administration as well as issuing construction contracts. The Procuratie Vecchie were erected in the first half of the 16th century under Doge Andrea Gritti. After 500 years, the three-storey building measuring 152 m in length was restored together with its facade consisting of arcades and friezes over the course of a comprehensive project, which involved redefining an internal gross floor area of 12,000 m². Parties involved in the project included the Generali Group insurance company as the owner of the building, David Chipperfield Architects (Berlin/London/Milan/Shanghai) and the general contractor RDE Sacaim SpA (Venice). They were supported by the fischer Group of Companies, which provided a series of fastening products ideally suitable for the various restoration tasks, including the restoration of the first and second floors where the insurance company’s offices are located.
The accessibility and usability of the rooms were reorganised while the third floor was fully renovated. This storey houses The Human Safety Net, an international, social initiative by Generali that provides support to disadvantaged people. Public access to the exhibition spaces, workspaces, event spaces, an auditorium and a café were created on the third floor. Several traditional, Venetian artisan craft techniques were used during the restoration work, including terrazzo on the arches that open up towards the walls, pastellone flooring, whitewashed brick surfaces, marmorino and Venetian plaster.
Due to the project’s tremendous significance, a great deal of skill and expertise were required for its architectural design as well as during the selection of the products for its thorough and careful restoration. Sacaim SpA, which has operated in Venice since 1920, was primarily responsible for these tasks. This general contractor has previously worked with the fischer Group of Companies on numerous projects. fischer supplied the fastening solutions for the restoration work. Daniele Penzo, an engineer at Sacaim SpA, explains: “It was a very unique project which involved using the same methods that were used centuries ago during the construction of the Procuratie Vecchie because of the construction’s conditions and the planner’s requirements”. Two monumental stairways were made entirely of timber, for instance, while individual bricks were laid in the walls by hand. Around 200,000 bricks were used for the stairs alone.
“The new ceilings were all built with timber. Several original ceilings were renovated by adding timber pieces to the ends of the beams and by restoring the boards”, Daniele Penzo states. “These ceilings were made earthquake-proof, and their load-bearing capacity was adapted by using specialist screws, metal connections and by safely distributing forces and loads”. The fischer PowerFast II screws were used for this purpose along with the perforated fischer bracing tape XBWB, which is available in Italy. Old fastenings, such as wooden pegs and riveted joints, were replaced with fischer’s heavy-duty fixings such as the fischer injection mortar FIS EM Plus, which offers excellent structural properties.
The restoration of the Procuratie Vecchie is part of Generali’s 190th anniversary celebrations as well as the large-scale restoration initiative of the area surrounding Saint Mark’s Square, which includes the recently reopened Royal Gardens. The building served as the insurance company’s Italian headquarters up until 1989. Generali will move back into the Procuratie Vecchie after its restoration. Thanks to the project’s successful completion, the building’s history can be preserved while the Procuratie Vecchie can be opened to the public for the first time and transported into the future with a new lease of life.
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