In the late 1800s, tenant farmers or crofters from a nearby estate built a thatch roofed, brick cottage on a small triangular plot of land surrounded by barley fields. Facing the geltinger birk nature reserve, which is home to wild horses and deer among the marshlands, the cottage had been abandoned for over a decade before being purchased by new owners. The house was in a dilapidated condition with low ceilings in most rooms, multiple sheds and a pig stie attached to the back, and a partially collapsed roof.

Project Name: Nieby Crofters Cottage
Studio Name: Studio Marshall Blecher

Nieby Crofters Cottage by Studio Marshall Blecher - Sheet1
©Studio Marshall Blecher

To transform the cottage into a contemporary country retreat, the new owners hired Jan Henrik Jansen arkitekter and Australian architect Marshall Blecher. It was important for the architects to maintain the historical appearance of the cottage, given the prevalence of renovated buildings in the area.

The facade of the house facing the street was preserved and restored with only a minimal black steel dormer window added. The more substantial alterations were made to the private rear yard, where a subtle black-framed addition containing an oak-lined living space was tucked under the thatched roof. Large picture windows were cut into the historic brick volume in areas that had been damaged from previous additions.

Nieby Crofters Cottage by Studio Marshall Blecher - Sheet4
©Studio Marshall Blecher

The center of the house, which once had fourteen small rooms, was opened up to create one large and airy kitchen and dining space with a high, chapel-like ceiling. A six-meter-long concrete plinth, which doubles as an island bench and dining table, had to be lowered into the house by a crane during the roof reconstruction.

Nieby Crofters Cottage by Studio Marshall Blecher - Sheet7
©Studio Marshall Blecher

The interior design combines historic elements such as small mullioned timber windows and exposed oak rafters with modern interventions. The walls are finished with a textured chamois plaster, and the joinery, doors, and furniture are custom-made from German oak to match the floorboards. The house now meets German sustainability standards, with high insulation, underfloor heating, and custom triple-glazed windows.


Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.