Thatched roof and glazed extension of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher

Glazed living room features in reconstruction of thatched Nieby Crofters Cottage

Architects Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher have overseen the careful reconstruction and extension of a 120-year-old thatched cottage in north Germany.

Nieby Crofters Cottage was in a dilapidated state when Jansen and Blecher's clients, a couple from Hamberg, asked the Copenhagen-based architects to plan the renovation.

Exterior of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
A glazed living room extends out from the corner of the thatched cottage

The project involved rebuilding most of the structure, restoring the original facade, but completely replanning the internal layout.

A former pigsty was replaced with a glazed extension, creating space for a sunken lounge that branches out from the new family-sized kitchen and dining room.

Thatched roof of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
The living room opens out to a sunken terrace

"When we visited for the first time, it was in quite bad shape," Blecher told Dezeen. "But the bones of the house were really beautiful once you peeled away all the layers of debris."

"We decided to rebuild it as much as possible but to also extend it with a discrete living room tucked under the eave of the straw roof at the back," he said.

Facade of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
The brick facade was carefully reconstructed

Nieby Crofters Cottage is shortlisted for Dezeen Awards 2022 in the residential rebirth category.

Located on the edge of the Geltinger Birk nature reserve, the house was originally built by tenant farmers – known as crofters – who worked on a nearby estate.

The original brick facade was taken apart to allow installation of a new concrete foundation, but has been reinstated almost exactly as it was before.

New windows have been inserted, but were positioned at points where the brickwork had already been punctured by previous extensions.

Thatched roof and dormer window in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
A new thatch roof was installed, with a dormer window at one end

The thatched roof, which was long past its expected lifespan of 50 years, was replaced, with the addition of a black steel-framed dormer projecting out of one end.

"The roof is very traditional in the way that it's made," said Blecher. "We were very particular about the way it was trimmed and how the reach of the roof was detailed."

Kitchen and dining room in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
The new interior centres around a kitchen and dining room

Inside, adjustments were needed to increase ceiling heights that in some places were less than 1.8 metres. This involved removing a lot of the first floor to create double-height spaces.

The previous "warren of tiny little rooms" is now replaced with a more modern layout, organised around living and dining spaces at the centre of the house.

Daybed in living room of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
A daybed is built into a niche beside the window

Exposed ceiling beams, low-hanging pendant lights and a large central island help to create drama. There's also a built-in daybed built into a niche beside the window.

"We wanted to create an unexpected space in the centre of the house," said Blecher.

Oak-lined living room in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Oak lines the floor, walls and ceiling of the living room

There are two bedrooms, both at the northeast end of the house. One is located on the ground floor, with an en-suite bathroom, and the second is directly above it.

A utility room and family bathroom are located in the south corner, while an entrance lobby is framed by a freestanding storage unit.

Corridor in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
A freestanding storage unit frames the entrance lobby

Interior finishes were selected to match the tones of the building materials. Oak provides flooring and, in some places, extends up around walls and ceilings. Other walls are finished in clay-based plaster.

The addition of under-floor heating and triple-glazed windows helps to improve the building's thermal performance.

Bedroom in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
There are two bedrooms, one on each floor

Nieby Crofters Cottage is one of a series of projects that Jansen, who is originally from Germany, and Blecher, who is Australian, have collaborated on. They also teamed up on the weathering-steel-clad Villa Korup.

The project was delivered with support from locally based office FF Arkitekten.

The cottage is currently being used by its owners as a weekend retreat, but they couple plan to move into it permanently when they retire.

The photography is by Jose Campos.

More images and plans

Ground floor plan, Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Ground floor plan
First floor plan, Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
First floor plan
Section, Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Section
Aerial view of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Aerial view of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Aerial view of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Entrance view of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
View of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher through trees
Sunken terrace of Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Exposed ceiling beams in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Dining table and staircase in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Kitchen and dining room in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Dining room in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher
Staircase in Nieby Crofters Cottage by Jan Henrik Jansen and Marshall Blecher