Whale Brewing / CASE-REAL

Architects: CASE-REAL
Area: 194 m²
Year: 2023
Photographs: Hiroshi Mizusaki
Construction: Ob
Lighting Design: BRANCH lighting design, Tatsuki Nakamura
Design Team: Koichi Futatsumata, Koichi Shimohira
Branding and Graphic Design: TETUSIN DESIGN, Takayuki Senzaki, Toru Hisamatsu, Maika Okubo
City: Saga
Country: Japan

“Whale Brewing” is a craft beer brewery designed in Yobuko, Japan. Transforming an 80-year-old traditional house, the project aimed to invigorate a community historically linked to whaling and now noted for its squid fishing industry. Facing issues like declining population and vacant homes, the initiative to establish the brewery seeks to reanimate the local economic landscape. The building, which once combined residential and commercial functions, required significant structural enhancements and repairs due to deterioration. The design retains the building’s powerful inherent structure, revealed during demolition, and integrates it into the brewery’s new function. By connecting the brewery with the street’s daily life and utilizing materials like stainless steel and Japanese cypress, the renovation aims to root Whale Brewing firmly within the local community, aspiring to become a landmark in Yobuko.

Whale brewing / case-real

“Whale Brewing,” a craft beer brewery designed by CASE-REAL in Yobuko, Japan, revives an 80-year-old traditional Japanese house. The town of Yobuko, historically a whaling hub and now recognized for its squid fishing, faces demographic challenges, including a declining population and vacant homes. The client initiated this renovation project to help rejuvenate the community.

The site chosen for Whale Brewing was a vacated traditional residence along Yobuko Asaichi-dori, a street famous for its morning seafood and goods stalls. The building suffered from various structural issues, including leaks and general deterioration, especially visible in the façade. The renovation required extensive repairs to the roof, exterior walls, and internal structural reinforcements.

After the building’s interior was dismantled, an impressive structure with a maximum height of about 9 meters was revealed. The design team, through extensive dialogue with the client, opted to enhance the building’s inherent qualities in the brewery’s transformation. The goal was to forge a connection between the brewery and the street activity.

Whale brewing / case-real

Architecturally, the brewery features a retail space with a high ceiling towards the street, while the brewing area includes an atrium that introduces a dramatic void. The façade, partly glass, ensures visibility of the brewery’s interior and its striking wooden structure. The brewery also integrates stainless steel elements, such as counters and handles, aligning them with the materiality of the brewing tanks.

Significant to the design is the use of solid Japanese cypress for some of the façade’s structural pillars. These pillars not only underscore the vertical expanse but also soften the structural expression through their rounded forms. This synthesis of new functional elements with the building’s original character aims to establish “Whale Brewing” as a new focal point in Yobuko, deeply connected to its locale.

Whale brewing / case-real
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Project Location

Address: Saga, Japan

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