Dogana Resort


Dogana Resort is the result of an important restoration and recovery action of the ancient seminary in Molfetta town, a building which, together with San Corrado cathedral, represents one of the most distinctive elements of seaside waterfront.

The construction is composed by the union of different volumes, ancient seafront palaces built  between 14th and 15th century and owned by local noble families. The function fusion happened just between 1760 and 1763 thanks to the bishop Celestino Orlando and by the work of architect Piero Magarelli, to whom we owe the final architectural layout and the facade implementation, marked by a late Baroque style with Neapolitan orientation.

The use as a seminary was actually brief; because of the abolition of monastic orders during the Napoleonic age and the subsequent relocation of the seminary into another building, after a period of neglect, the construction had been re-purposed since the end of 1900 as harbour customs house, introducing changes and additions which have upset the interior appearance.

In 2009, as part of the initiative “Valore Paese”, the State Property Agency gave the concession and the relative restoration project of the building to Dogana Vecchia srl society, which started the construction in 2018.

NCB, which dealt with the general art direction, the interior architecture and the design strategy, worked together with the owners coordinating the local technical team in order to guarantee a congruent and severe action in harmony with the ambitious requalification program.

The general concept has been defined after a deep dialogue with the pre-existences, based on new modern threads drafting. As a result, the restoration project has been philologically focused on the volumes re-composition and the rediscovery of different textural and decorative stratigraphy thanks to a pure and concise language, able to underline the building details and edges but at the same time avoiding to remove the aesthetic and sensorial continuum.

Where it was possible, after structural reinforcement, weight-bearing stony facings and covering vaults have been kept visible, emphasizing original textures of tuff using soft lime filling and protecting the surfaces through binding agents and glazings.

The interior walls have been dressed with lime plasters, finished with tone-on-tone glazings which give textural depth and smoothness to volumes. The choice of those kind of materials has been agreed together with the Superintendence, selected into the traditional local abacus, favouring  Apricena stone where possible, used in different textures, size and thickness according to the situation.

All the new internal divisions, aimed to create the suites, have been realized with dry technologies of plasterboard systems and steel-glass walls, preserving intact the original recovered volumes.

The whole resort has a complex surface of 5300 smq, developing within 5 floors.

The main entrance from the dock is placed at the underground level, where there are also the reception, the hall, a reading/meeting room, a little cinema as well as the staff area.

The mezzanine floor, accessible by the eighteenth-century monumental portal facing Chiesa Vecchia street, hosts the bistrot, a bar, a restaurant, the multi-purpose room, the kitchen, all reachable also from the dock side. A monumental stairway brings to three upper floors among 32 suites and a spa, ending with the terrace level, a perfect location for events and meetings able to offer a stunning sea view and a sight on the bell towers, twins of the cathedral.

The interior project is an integral part of the restoration strategy, becoming a trait d’union between the factory architectural features and the surrounding landscape, reducing the new hospitality storytelling through proportional furnishing and elegant decorative elements, using finishings and colours palettes typical of the Mediterranean tradition, choosing neutral and warm nuances able to celebrate the vibrant light of the harbour and the hamlet shadows; natural materials and soft textures in order to create an authentic enjoyable experience, according to the genius loci.