View from Piazza San Marco; View from Piazza San Marco;

Procuratie Vecchie, Venice

Generali’s Procuratie Vecchie: restoring an architectural icon in Venice's Piazza San Marco

Breathing new life into landmark heritage buildings is a generous gift to the host city and its inhabitants that requires a delicate balancing act. Historical refurbishments must respect the historical character of the building, while restoring and future-proofing the landmark for generations to come.

In Venice, the famed Piazza San Marco has welcomed the restoration of the Procuratie Vecchie, one of the most relevant works of 16th century Italian Renaissance architecture. The ancient building, whose arched façade runs the full length of the square’s north-west side, remains the iconic headquarters of Italian insurance giant Generali and will also play host to its new social foundation, The Human Safety Net. The extensive refurbishment means that large areas of the 500-year-old building, including exhibition and event spaces, will be open to the public for the first time.

Generali selected architects David Chipperfield following an international design competition, with Arup appointed to provide multi-disciplinary engineering services from concept all the way to detail design.

The key challenge in this delicate refurbishment project was how to restore and preserve the iconic building’s historical character while ensuring it meets the needs of the owner, Generali. Arup’s data-driven modelling work enabled our engineers to get an accurate assessment of this very complex building at speed, ensuring that a series of considered interventions and minimal retrofitting measures future-proof this iconic place.

Project Summary

1519 construction year

15,000 total surface area

Arup’s advanced modelling work enabled us to rapidly unlock the secrets of this historical masterpiece, helping solve some of the key challenges associated with the refurbishment of historic buildings ” Paolo Micucci Head of European Engineering & Project Management at Generali Real Estate

Digital tools unlock the structural secrets of the Procuratie Vecchie

Aligning all the stakeholders was crucial to the success of this large-scale refurb project, which aims to introduce clarity with a series of minimal interventions. Arup’s team of multi-disciplinary engineers were appointed to evaluate the condition of the building, which has undergone several interventions over the course of its history; and analyse the performance of the existing materials and structures before and after the intervention, including the historical masonry that supports the walls and the timber that makes the slab.

The Procuratie's refurbishment plan has targeted a series of interventions to restore the first and second storeys, including strengthening the existing wooden floor; while improving accessibility and usability on the third and fourth floors with the introduction of new staircases and a renewed central entrance on the third floor with access to the raised courtyards.

Using advanced modelling tools, Arup carried out an exhaustive analysis of the building, delivering a better understanding of the structural issues in order to propose a series of minimal, non-intrusive retrofitting measures to optimise its structural integrity. A model was created in LS-DYNA, detailing the brick masonry walls, masonry arches and vaults, flexible timber floors and friction connections. The work highlighted some issues concerning the monumental façade onto the Piazza San Marco, which was not interlocked to the internal walls, but attached to these by steel ties only.

LS-DYNA Model 1 LS-DYNA Model 1
Using advanced modelling tools, Arup carried out an exhaustive analysis of the building.

Safeguarding the past for the future: a sustainable vision for historical refurbishments

Arup has provided seismic, structural, mechanical, electrical and public health engineering as well as fire engineering services during the concept stage. Our integrated multi-disciplinary approach, including façade consultancy, has improved the overall energy performance and sustainability, safeguarding this iconic building. The third floor will include exhibition spaces linked by arched openings for the Human Safety Net Foundation, along with workspaces and an auditorium.

Our engineers and consultants have also worked on restoration and enhancement of the third and fourth floors, where the existing timber floor was strengthened, and two new staircases and lifts connecting the building to the raised courtyards. Finally, the roof layout will be modified with the creation of terraces.

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