British architect has been chosen to lead the restoration of a monumental building in Venice’s St Mark’s Square, where the Doge’s minions once schemed and squabbled over the governance of the independent city state.

Sir David Chipperfield will oversee the multi-million pound renovation of the 16th century Procuratie Vecchie, which will be opened to the public for the first time in 500 years when the project is completed in 2020.

The project will include the opening up of a hidden passageway that leads from St Mark’s Square over a narrow canal to the Royal Gardens, a public park on the banks of the Grand Canal which has been in a state of abandonment for years. A pergola covered in wisteria will be restored and an orangerie planted.