Large parts of the Procuratie Vecchie (Old Procuracies) in Saint Mark’s Square, Venice, Italy, are being opened to the public for the first time in 500 years following a five year restoration programme – with the help of fischer fixing solutions.
Three connected buildings, known as the Procuratie, surround Saint Mark’s Square. The Procuratie Vecchie is located to the north, the Napoleonic Wing lies to the west and the Procuratie Nuove (New Procuracies) lies to the south. They have served as the residences and offices of the procurators of Saint Mark – city officials who held the second highest positions in the Republic of Venice, second only to the heads of state, the doges.
After 500 years, the three storey building, measuring 152m in length, was restored, together with its façade of arcades and friezes. The comprehensive restoration project, which involved redefining an internal gross floor area of 12,000m2, involved the Generali Group insurance company, which owned the building; David Chipperfield Architects, which has offices in Berlin, London, Milan and Shanghai; and the general contractor, RDE Sacaim SpA, of Venice. They were supported by the fischer Group of Companies, which provided a series of fastening products ideally suited to the various restoration tasks and for replacing old fastenings – such as wooden pegs, riveted joints, and other applications – with fischer fastening products during the five years of restoration work.
fischer fixing solutions also helped with the restoration of the first and second floors, where the owners’ offices are located. Accessibility and usability of these rooms were reorganised, while the third floor was fully renovated – with it now housing: ‘The Human Safety Net’, an international, social initiative by Generali that provides support to disadvantaged people. Public access to the exhibition, work, and event spaces, as well as an auditorium, and a café, were also 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, as well as the use of 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 fischer on numerous projects and, on this occasion, selected the fastener specialist to supply the fastening solutions for the restoration work. Daniele Penzo, an engineer at Sacaim, explained that it was a very unique project, which involved using the same methods that were used centuries ago – during the original construction of the Procuratie Vecchie. Two immense stairways, for example, were made entirely of timber, with individual bricks laid in the walls by hand, around 200,000 being used for the stairs alone.
“The new ceilings were all built with timber,” Penzo continued. “Several original ceilings were renovated by adding timber pieces to the ends of the beams and by restoring the boards. 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.” For this purpose, fischer PowerFast II screws were used along with perforated fischer bracing tape, XBWB. Old fastenings, such as wooden pegs and riveted joints, were replaced with fischer’s heavy-duty fixings, including 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, which have encompassed the large-scale restoration initiative of the area surrounding Saint Mark’s Square, including the recently reopened Royal Gardens. These served as the insurance company’s Italian headquarters, up until 1989, but Generali will now move back into the Procuratie Vecchie, following its restoration. With the building’s history preserved and now opening to the public for the first time, the Procuratie Vecchie has a new lease of life, as it heads into the future, thanks to the restoration project’s successful completion.
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 15 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.
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