This minimalist Japanese sake brewery conceals a zen secret garden
Case Real has long been a front runner in designing functional workspaces, placing emphasis on the employees’ freedom to create. Recall its Japanese storehouse live-work conversion back in 2016, and its minimalist creations for similarly-minded brands like Aesop.
Now, the Fukuoka prefecture-based design and architecture firm has partially renovated the Yamaguchi Sake Brewery based in Kurume city. The traditional, cedar-beam property was constructed on the site in the early 1800s by Yamaguchi family ancestors, and it required the contemporary architectural thought of designers Koichi Futatusmata and Koichi Shimohira to bring it up to date.
‘The client wished to effectively use the courtyard between the aged main house and warehouse on the same premise, while maintaining the continuity of the two structures,’ the studio explains. ‘As a solution, we connected the two with a washed finished cement floor and stair, and by re-arranging the large opening of the lounge space in the main house, we created a closer connection between the buildings.’
Rice milling must be handled gently, and rooms must be kept at precise humidity levels. The new connective courtyard allows the delicate sake brewing process to flow more comfortably. The secret garden is sparsely ornamented by slim native trees, anchored by off-white pebbles. It offers a distinct, meditative area for brewers to unwind mid-shift.
Likewise, the new, dedicated lounge space is a zen environment, that recalls the structures history, while looking to its future. Walls are rendered in contemporary sweet-chestnut shades and vast windows fill the space with light. A characterful, polished stone flow recalls the structures early days, and original beams stand sturdy overhead; a reminder of the family’s longstanding sake brewing heritage.