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

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By Michele Koh Morollo / Published by Dwell
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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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

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

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

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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. 

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"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. 

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Photography by Michael Nicholson

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