Find Out How Light and Precious Outdoor Space Were Introduced to an Old Australian Cottage

A series of interlocking masonry volumes are placed behind an existing cottage in New South Wales, Australia, to maximize sunlight penetration and improve air circulation.

Sydney-based firm Welsh + Major designed the Annandale House for a family of four, which included the creation of a light well directly behind the original cottage. 

The design team fitted the light well with a large, retractable glass roof so that when it rains or gets cold, the family can shut themselves in and warm up near the crackling fireplace in the living area. 

Behind the light well, they created three new brick volumes—each thinner than the one before it—that slide down the southern side of the site like a telescope. 

This opens up the site along the northern side to create an outdoor space for the family to enjoy. The architects also created a new dining nook with a sandstone shelf by burrowing under the old cottage. 

This dining nook faces mirrored sliders that open to reveal a compact workstation. 

Along the walls of the light well are stairs that lead up to the master bedroom and two children’s bedrooms.

The bedrooms were constructed out of concrete and brick to differentiate the new quarters from the original cottage. 

The 8.2-foot-wide galley kitchen with smoked-oak joinery is fitted with sliders that can be fully opened to connect with a slender, open-air, brick-paved courtyard. 

"On such a skinny site that couldn’t have much of a backyard, all that access to light and air makes a huge difference to how you feel about the space," explains Welsh. 

Photography by Michael Nicholson


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