CASE-REAL Transforms 80-Year-Old Traditional Japanese House into Craft Beer Brewery

CASE-REAL’s transformative renovation of an 80-year-old traditional Japanese house into Whale Brewing, a craft beer brewery in Saga, Japan, represents a thoughtful response to the challenges faced by the town of Yobuko. Historically known for its whaling and later renowned for squid fishing during the Edo period, Yobuko now grapples with issues such as a declining population due to youth migration and a surplus of vacant houses. The Whale Brewing project emerged as a strategy to attract young people to the town and breathe new life into its cultural and economic landscape. The chosen location, an abandoned traditional house along the bustling Yobuko Asaichi-dori street, served as the canvas for this ambitious undertaking.

Upon careful examination, the architects at CASE-REAL discovered the hidden potential within the aging structure. The interior, despite suffering from leaks, facade deterioration, and structural problems, revealed a robust nine-meter-tall framework. Following extensive discussions with clients, the decision was made to preserve and incorporate the existing strengths of the house into the brewery’s new design. The resulting layout features a storefront area with a unique ceiling design on the facade side, while the brewing space creatively utilizes the generous height of the second floor through an open atrium. A continuous glass facade connects both levels, providing a captivating view of the lively street below and showcasing the brewing process.

The architects’ meticulous attention to detail is evident in the choice of materials and design elements. Stainless steel, used selectively for components like the counter and handles, creates a cohesive aesthetic in harmony with the brewing equipment. The façade pillars, crucial for structural support, are crafted from solid Japanese cypress, introducing a touch of local authenticity and emphasizing the verticality of the space. The intentional incorporation of rounded shapes in the pillars and counter edges serves to soften the overall design, creating a seamless integration of structural elements with the brewery’s ambiance. The architects envision Whale Brewing as a new landmark firmly rooted in the local community, bridging the past with the present while providing a vibrant space for both locals and visitors alike.

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