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A project to renovate a 80-year-old traditional Japanese house as a craft beer brewery called “Whale Brewing”. Yobuko, which once prospered as a whaling base during the Edo period, is now known for its squid fishing industry. However, the town has been facing challenges such as a declining population due to the outmigration of the younger generation and an increase in vacant houses. This project was initiated with the desire of the client to revitalize the town in the face of these conditions.

The chosen location for the project was an old traditional house situated along a street known as “Yobuko Asaichi-dori” where local seafood and processed goods stalls are set up every morning. After serving as both a shop and residence for many years, the house for the site had become vacant, suffering from issues like leaks and deterioration, particularly in the façade. In addition to this, the interior structure needed reinforcement, as well as repair for the roof and exterior walls. On the other hand, after the interior was dismantled, a powerful structure with a maximum height of approximately 9 meters emerged. Through numerous discussions with the client, we decided to not only perform necessary architectural renovations but also incorporate the strong characteristics this building possesses into the new brewery. We aimed to create a space where the new establishment and the street in front of it would feel connected.

Architecturally, the building features a store space with a ceiling toward the façade side, while a portion of the brewing area utilizes an atrium to create an impressive void. Furthermore, the façade, including the atrium section, is glass, allowing the interior to have a ceiling while still showcasing the impressive wooden framework towards the street, evoking a brewery-like atmosphere. On the floor plan, a slope connects the rear of the building which was elevated due to ground conditions. Stainless steel was used for various parts such as the counter and handles, creating a sense of material continuity with the tanks in the brewing space. Additionally, some of the façade pillars serving a structural purpose were made from solid Japanese cypress, emphasizing the height of the space and by incorporating rounded shapes into the pillars, we succeeded in adding a sense of softness while integrating structure and design. By combining the new functions of the brewery with the original characteristics of the building, we hope that this will become a new landmark in Yobuko, firmly rooted in the local community.

Client: Whale Brewing
Type of Project: Renovation
Use: brewery
Period: Feb 2022 – Jul 2023
Floor Area: 194m2
Location: Saga, Japan
Design: Koichi Futatsumata, Koichi Shimohira (CASE-REAL)
Construction: Ob
Lighting Plan: Tatsuki Nakamura (BRANCH LIGHTING DESIGN)
Branding&Graphic Design: Takayuki Senzaki,  Toru Hisamatsu, Maika Okubo (TETUSIN DESIGN)
Photo: Hiroshi Mizusaki

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