A team of architects, designers, and 3D printing experts joined forces to create a unique suite experience in an ancient Italian tower dating back to 1161. Overlooking the Ligurian Sea, the three-floor suite has been refurbished and is now ready to welcome tourists. At the heart of the project are dozens of 3D printed pieces of furniture and decor that beautifully contrast with the flair of the medieval Capitolare Tower in the ancient fishing village of Porto Venere, just south of the Cinque Terre region on the Italian Riviera.
Reimagining a Medieval Tower
It was a unique undertaking for Andrea Borlenghi, the founder and CEO of the Capitolare Suite Tower. His vision was to turn his love for Porto Venere and the Liguria region into a concrete project that would significantly impact tourism and local residents. After an in-depth conservative restoration, carried out using recycled materials and following the principle of eco-friendly architecture, the Capitolare team has returned the thousand-year-old tower to the community.
For centuries, the Capitolare tower – which translates to “surrender” in English – has been a rampant defense for the city. Adjacent to the city gate, this twelfth-century staple is “a wonder that has been hidden for too long,” according to Borlenghi.
Large Scale 3D Printing from Caracol
After having imagined, thought, and planned for three years, Borlenghi’s Capitolare suite was finally inaugurated on April 9, 2022. Born from an idea to create a space that welcomes travelers into a truly exceptional environment, Capitolare demanded Borlenghi team up with local 3D printing company Caracol, designers Federica Cristaudo and Pietro Bonu, and architect Michele Bassi, who restored the antique tower.
Visually stunning, the exposed bricks of the structure are an ideal backdrop for the 3D printed furnishings, as the historic and modern technology find a unique balance. According to Cristaudol, all the furnishings were made using environmentally-friendly 3D printing and integrated precious raw materials such as Portoro, a golden veined black marble from the Liguori region, and gilding dating back to the same century of construction of the tower itself.
All the interior and exterior pieces were designed, engineered, and manufactured with Caracol’s robotic additive manufacturing technology. For the task, Caracol chose an integrated solution that works with a patented extrusion head, six-axis robotic support, proprietary software platform, and automation control system.
Caracol’s proprietary Scalprum 13800 proprietary AM robotic system is seen crafting some of the most visually stunning centerpieces of the suite. The six-axis technology and free-form slicing possibilities provide no limits in scale and complexity. These features enable the production of large monolithic parts, complex and organic geometries, and manufacturing with nonplanar slicing (at 45 or 60 degrees).
At the tower, the space is evenly equipped with unique 3D printed creations that “recall the movement of the sea” and were inspired by the design concepts provided by Cristaudo. Each and every bespoke detail has been premeditatedly incorporated into the room, from the indoor chairs to the headboard and even the fixtures on the walls. The result is an eye-pleasing environment as inviting to tourists as the town’s charm.
“We hoped for an intervention of this beauty, but we never imagined it. For the municipality administration it is a privilege to have a structure like this (… ) Now this adventure really begins,” announced Porto Venere’s Mayor Matteo Cozzani during the ribbon cutting ceremony that inaugurated the tower.
The heart of this project was to save an ancient tower from decadence, but the result is a perfect blend of tradition and innovation. In its new guise, Capitolare stands as a staple of tourism, history, and beauty.
Borlenghi, who now works as Territory Business Manager for 9T Labs – a Swiss developer of the unique Additive Fusion Solution for manufacturing carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) composite parts – and previously worked at Roboze, views 3D printing as an innovative technology that can even be at the service of the most ancient history. In fact, his undertaking is a huge testament to the potential of 3D printing in countless applications and a wide range of industries.
At the suite, travelers can take advantage of the spa center and room service and indulge in a balcony with a unique sea view. Tourists can now book a stay in the Capitolare tower here and experience the world’s first 3D printed luxury suite in one of the most ancient towns in Italy.
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