In 2018 Palazzo Vendramin Grimani was acquired by LFPI through the FLE IT Fund 1 managed in passporting by FLE S.A.
Under the direction of Stefano Keller, Managing Director and Partner of LFPI in Italy, the fund has been involved in the restoration and reallocation of use of the entire historic building.
In 2020, Palazzo Vendramin Grimani underwent a systematic series of maintenance and restoration projects that demonstrated the owner’s desire to “take care” of one of the most beautiful Venetian palaces in the San Polo district.
The work carried out, which has been shared from the outset with the Superintendency of Fine Arts of Venice, was aimed at the extraordinary maintenance of the palazzo, its adaptation for use by the disabled, as well as a partial change of use involving the rooms on the ground and first floors of the building, which now house a Foundation.
On the ground floor, the main entrance hall of the building (running through the whole palazzo) was refurbished by removing the typical wooden panels protecting the walls, which had deteriorated, and replacing them with more durable materials, while maintaining the principle of protecting the healthiness of the historic wall. The latter was cleaned and a “peel-and-stitch” operation undertaken to restore the wall texture where it had been cracked or altered.
On the ground floor, the technical rooms housing the new building plant were generally modernised, as described in more detail in the following paragraphs.
The first floor of the building underwent a modification of the conveniences to adapt them to people with disabilities, as well as general extraordinary maintenance.
The second floor of the building, which is particularly fine, was affected only by work carried out in order to preserve its originality as much as possible. Only a few portions of the false ceiling were replaced where necessary to update the systems and the lift.
The third floor is the one that underwent the greatest intervention, with the remaking of the ceiling towards the attic, as well as a general redistribution of the interior spaces, always maintaining and respecting the main historical partitions.
The architectural work on the building’s rooms went hand in hand with a design project for a new, modern plant, which required an integrated approach to planning taking into account both the architectural and technical elements.
The renovation of the attic made it possible to install a number of internal technological units, inserting these inside the existing wooden frame, while respecting and preserving the historical and original carpentry structures. In this context, it was possible to create air intakes and skylights with as little intervention as possible on the original roof of the building, while at the same time assuring the full functioning of the systems. In accordance with the well-publicised provisions for the protection and promotion of monumental and listed cultural heritage, it was therefore possible fully to implement the project by Carlo Pagan of the H&A Associati studio which foresaw the smallest possible openings in the roof (with only 2 “dormers” and 1 skylight for the air intakes) to allow the machinery to be lifted into the building without changing its functions and appearance.
The above-mentioned intervention has made it possible not to modify the elevations and roofs and so respect the landscape constraints fully, while at the same time the owner has maintained and strengthened the true vocation of the Palazzo for an original and true mixed function of the spaces.
In addition to the change of use, the building has been adapted as regards accessibility, with the complete renovation of the lift in the position in which it had been located for the last 50 years. The intervention has seen the adaptation of the space with structural consolidation and repair work to enable the construction of a new lift giving access to all the floors in accordance with current regulations.
The above-mentioned adaptation also involved the WCs on two of the five floors, which were adapted for use by people with disabilities. At the same time, a new wastewater treatment system was installed, using two separate systems with vibrating elements, which now complies with the requirements of the specific regulations of the City of Venice.
The main façade overlooking the Grand Canal, entirely covered in bush-hammered Istrian stone, was marked by large disintegrating areas before the intervention, as well as a widespread phenomenon of surface deposition on all surfaces. The intervention, undertaken as maintenance, included cleaning and consolidation, and was carried out by means of biological disinfestation, cleaning of the surfaces, removal of loose materials and consolidation using appropriate chemical and mechanical methods in the crumbling areas.
The façade was also affected by the installation of a new water pier for access from the Grand Canal, as is the practice for all large Venetian palaces on the water: this access, in fact, was formerly the main access to the palazzo.
In the case of the intervention carried out, the pier is wooden with a metal structure; it simply rests on the historic steps in Istrian stone and is therefore completely removable.
In addition to the main façade, the intervention also involved the façade of the inner courtyard of the building, which saw the restoration of the plastering of the lower part of the courtyard and general cleaning of the remaining parts of the façades.
The historical wooden shutters of the building, seriously damaged by humidity, were carefully restored with the replacement of only those portions that could not be recovered, in accordance with the requirements of the Superintendency of Fine Arts of Venice.
The building’s systems underwent a careful check to confirm good functional status as well as correct compliance with the specific laws and regulations in force.
The malfunctions and non-compliance with regulations were resolved by modifying the existing air conditioning system (winter and summer), thus optimising energy consumption.
The heat generation previously carried out with methane boilers was converted to new air-cooled heat pumps, rationalising the technical spaces and maintaining the building’s overall prestige.
Specifically, the condensation units of the new heat pumps were positioned in the attic of the building, suitably masked so as not to change the elements visible from the outside. This change made it possible to reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions drastically (abandonment of methane as energy vector in favour of electricity) while increasing the overall thermal yields of the heat generation unit. In addition, it was possible to improve the management of the new plant while minimising energy consumption, by including a system to run the plant in an integrated and completely automated manner, while also improving comfort indoors.
The elimination of the methane boilers has also enabled the complete elimination of methane from the entire building, thus improving overall safety.
A smoke detection system has also been added in all parts of the building, which will improve the overall fire safety of the building and the works it contains. At the same time, given the intended use of the various interior spaces, a professional Wi-Fi system has been installed, which can provide total coverage of the spaces with a high level of simultaneous use (a high number of users connected at the same time). A new and modern anti-intrusion system has also been installed.