Palazzo del Banco di Napoli

Designed by Marcello Piacentini at the end of the 1930s, the building, formerly the headquarters of the Banco di Napoli, was renovated by Michele De Lucchi -AMDL Circle in line with the latest museum standards: the architectural project continues and expands upon the exhibitions and cultural activities offered by the nearby Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano between 1999 and 2022.

1534

The large San Giacomo complex was first occupied at the behest of viceroy Pedro de Toledo. At the end of the century, the Banco di San Giacomo e Vittoria was established.

1806

With the French domination and the suppression of the bank, which was subsequently merged into the Banco delle Due Sicilie, the complex underwent its first transformation.

1826

Following the Bourbon restoration, a monumental building became home to the Ministries of State. The complex included a neoclassical Stock Exchange building and a modern gallery with an iron-and-glass interior.

1871

After the unification of Italy, the first ideas emerged for a modern headquarters for the Banco di Napoli, which was established when the Banco delle Due Sicilie split.

1940

After just 13 months of construction, the new Banco di Napoli headquarters, designed by Marcello Piacentini, opened on 9 May.

2022

Opening of the new Gallerie d’Italia - Napoli following an architectural refurbishment project led by Michele De Lucchi.

The Banco di Napoli building, designed by Marcello Piacentini, was opened on 9 May 1940 as the modern new headquarters of the time-honoured institution. The building is located on a part of the site once occupied by the large San Giacomo complex where, at the behest of viceroy Pedro de Toledo, in the third decade of the 16th century work began on the construction of a church and hospital dedicated to the patron saint of Spain which would serve as religious and healthcare establishment for Spaniards living in the city. Ever since 1597, when the old Banco di San Giacomo e Vittoria was established before being merged into the Banco delle Due Sicilie during the French decade and then into the Banco di Napoli in the post-Unification era, the bank has remained a distinctive and enduring feature.

During the 19th century, the complex hosted the kingdom’s financial administration headquarters, followed later on by the headquarters of the Bourbon State Ministries, designed by Stefano Gasse. The partial demolition of this imposing building provided an opportunity, in the 1930s, for a grand, modern headquarters for the Neapolitan bank to be built. This led to one of the country’s most renowned architects at the time getting involved.

Towards the end of 1938, Marcello Piacentini began designing the building, working on the exterior, the architectural layout, the details of the rooms inside, all the decorations, the wall coverings, the lighting fixtures made by Fontana Arte, and the furniture. The design of the main façade demonstrates the monumental style typical of Piacentini's public buildings, and it is clear to see that classical and Michelangelesque elements have here been reworked: specifically the giant order, the imposing base with large windows that seem to emerge from the stone and the massive central block with five arches, where the alternating flat and round shapes of the arches are reminiscent of the solutions adopted for great Renaissance palaces. Within this very same figurative experience, moreover, is the classic tripartite facade, with its austere Billiemi stone base, travertine band in the middle and attic at the top. The front of the building sits further back than those of the other buildings on via Toledo, which makes the façade even more grandiose. The austerity of the main façade is offset by the inner courtyards, whose brickwork is reminiscent of contemporary German and American experiments.

A noteworthy aspect of the design as a whole is the great care taken in choosing the materials. The Billiemi grey stone and travertine give the façade a solemn feel, while the red granite of the vestibule serves as a prelude to the green Issorie marble of the floor and the pink Vallestrona marble of the walls in the great hypostyle counters hall (the largest of those built at the time).

The monumental staircase, with stained glass windows by Luigi Parisio, leads up to the second floor, where the Ethiopian marble of the Assembly Hall benefits from the warm light diffused by the elegant windows shielded by alabaster slabs. This is a large double-height space with a coffered ceiling and flat lunettes, evoking the design of Roman-era basilicas.

Every single detail of the building appears to be under the full control of the designer, including the design of the marble floor and wall coverings, the wooden double doors, the lamps and chandeliers, the tiles used in less official rooms, and the use of concrete and glass blocks in the garage.

In terms of work done in recent times, the work done in 1986 by Nicola Pagliara on the via Toledo side to enhance Piacentini’s austere façade with furnishings like basins, planters and seats, is particularly noteworthy.

 

 

 

 

New venue of Gallerie d’Italia – Napoli, interview with Director Michele Coppola

New venue of Gallerie d’Italia - Napoli, interview with Deputy director Antonio Ernesto Denunzio