A beautiful new wooden grand piano has been added to this 1950s ‘Tocumwal’ cottage in Canberra

Ben Walker Architects worked on and rejuvenated a 1950s ‘Tocumwal’ cottage in Canberra’s Inner North. Tocumwal houses are quite iconic in the Canberra region and were initially relocated there from southern New South Wales to address a housing crisis. This house used to be a military intelligence base, built during World War II. The original cottage and its essence were kept, while some modern adjustments and minor updates were also made.

Designer: Ben Walker Architects

A brand new wing has been added to the cottage, the Finn Stree House. This wing has 2 floors and is harmoniously integrated into the rear part of the cottage. It has a kitchen/dining/living room, loft, master bedroom and rumpus area. An external and independent studio has also been added which can act as a guest bedroom. High quality glazing systems, operable external sun shades and insulated internal thermal mass are some of the modern changes made in an effort to regulate temperatures during Canberra’s extreme weather conditions. Large impressive windows have been added, offering views of Canberra’s famous Telstra Tower and the Black Mountain landscape.

The outside of the house is a real eye-catcher! A wooden facade marks the exterior. It is free flowing and flows freely through the house. A series of screens dominate the upper level and are artfully sculpted against the windows, giving the whole structure a very harmonious and coordinated appeal. The upper level extends and overhangs part of the ground floor, protecting the outdoor dining area and creating a cozy and shaded space for dining or hanging out.


The interiors are also very interesting. They feature re-milled wood floors and ceiling slats and recycled Canberra Red bricks. Mild steel benches and cabinet fronts highlight the kitchen and really let the handcrafted elements of the home shine through. Glazed hexagonal tiles in wet areas and splashbacks represent the customer’s desire to integrate honeycomb elements into their home.


The new wing is a beautiful and sculptural addition to a cottage that could be considered a heritage treasure. The Finn Street House perfectly integrates the old and the new, creating a living space that respects what it was and welcomes what it has become today. I love how the original cottage has been retained, with the new wing just adding to its natural beauty and elegance.