Nestled in the steep gorges and river valleys of Japan’s Tokushima prefecture is Kamikatsu – a small town seemingly like any other. But Kamikatsu, unlike its neighbors (or indeed, most towns in the world), is nearly entirely waste-free.
Since 2003 – years before the movement gained widespread popularity – the town has committed to a zero-waste policy. The requirements are demanding: waste must be sorted in more than 30 categories, broken or obsolete items are donated or stripped for parts, unwanted items are left in a store for community exchange. But the residents’ efforts over the years have paid off- nearly
This may set a unique and exciting precedent for similar efforts around the world but it also poses a unique challenge for construction, a notoriously wasteful process.
Inside, the more technical components of beer production are organized in a kind of spatial chronology: first is the material warehouse, followed by the brewery and culminating in the large pub space itself. It’s here that you’ll find the building’s most iconic element: a large window that is in fact many windows, all recycled from other structure in and around the town.
“We gathered windows that illuminated the town in the past,” explain the architects in the project description. “..[it was] our wish that they would serve as a lantern of hope to shine upon the town struggling with a declining population.”
This civically-minded design element not only fulfills the low-waste requirement but is intended to instill and reflect a sense of local pride. Visitors can identify different structures from the town in the windows; it is a kind of urban history within a building.
Since construction completed in 2015, the building has become an essential character in the town – and one as frugal and friendly as its users. “…By embodying the town’s vision within everyday life, the locals who gather at this pub are beginning to truly realize that their actions are fun and creative,” explains Nakamura. So too is the architecture.