Fordham Abbey Dojima sake brewery

Kanji window

Sake brewery and visitor’s centre, Fordham, Cambridgeshire

The Hashimoto family are bringing the Dojima Sake Brewery, founded 600 years ago in Osaka, to Fordham Abbey to create Dojima Sake Brewery UK and introduce this cultural drink to these islands. The client brief is for a series of projects at different scales over time, introducing new uses for the 75 acre historic estate to be experienced by visitors.

The new-build Sake brewery and visitor centre will be the pilot project in this master plan, providing an early focal point. As the first Sake brewery in the UK, it will introduce the traditional artisan Sake brewing craft as the flagship for the family’s dream to cultivate appreciation of Sake widely in the UK.

The new brewery building appears to be a kind of single-aisled barn amongst the existing group of farm buildings. The outside walls and catslide roof are clad in berry red corrugated aluminium, the gables are cedar boarding with large windows. The west window is the kanji for Sake.

Primary structure for the building is twelve exposed steel portal frames at 4.2m centres running west east, giving a 13.8m clear span for the brewery rooms. Profiled steel panels brace the portal frames and make the finished inner surface of the external walls. Exposed facing-block walls and steel doors divide the rooms and separate the necessary climates inside. The brewery is a soft mix of whites and greys.

Low eaves on the south side and high eaves on the north side accommodate the different heights required by stages in the brewing process. In plan, the process begins in the north west corner and continues in clockwise sequence – analysis, rice washing & steaming, koji, mixing, fermentation & storage tanks and bottling. Windows and roof lights give natural light throughout and views of the brewing process. Low level natural ventilation louvres supply air to the building, three high level louvered chimneys collect all sorts of extract. A new borehole supplies the essential local water source. A myriad of carefully exposed services. A resin stone floor and stainless steel drains for washing down.

The eastern-most portal frames contain the café on the ground floor, visitor centre above, with a last exposed frame supporting a canopy, balcony and terrace looking out over the flood plain.

At the same time, the Grade II Listed Georgian Manor House is also being renovated to allow the ground floor to be used for events. A new pottery workshop is being built on the fringe of the ancient Lime woods, overlooking the flood plain towards the SSSI. Structures in the 1960s farmyard are being simply converted to serve as a farmers’ market and open workshops. A restaurant and spa is planned near the walled kitchen gardens…

This master plan of development will enable the heritage structures and landscape gardens to be restored carefully with a new purpose, ensuring their safeguarding and future.

Location: Fordham, Newmarket, Cambridgeshire

Client: Dojima Sake Brewery UK & Co.

Conservation Architects: KPTA (Kay Pilsbury Thomas Architects Ltd) with Consultant
Architects: SCABAL (Studio Cullinan And Buck Architects Ltd)

Cost Consultants: Press & Starkey

Structural Engineers: AFP (Andrew Firebrace Partnership)

Building Services Engineers: CBG Consultants

Main Contractor: PB Doyle

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