Learn why acclaimed Adelaide Architect Pauline Hurren simply fell in love with this "renovator's delight" in the Adelaide Hills. 

 

 

 

Heartwood | Built 1867  | Reborn 2016  | A celebration of 150 years.

Budding home renovators, builders, architectural voyeurs and dreamers alike are invited to follow the journey from paper and pen to a creative construction of stone, glass and timber. 

Watch the Heartwood Project Team as they restore, rebuild and remodel this small piece of early settlement history in one of Adelaide's most sought-after residential areas and prettiest towns in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. 

Join me, as I talk with Pauline Hurren, Principal Architect on the Heartwood Project in each of the phases of the project … 

“There is so much to love about this Pioneer’s home,” said Pauline Hurren, acclaimed South Australian Architect and design principal on this project.

 “The bones were strong and our desire for this humble stone dwelling is to lovingly transform it into a stylish home for today, while honouring its past glories,” continued Pauline.

When the property selling agent showed the Hurren Project Team through Heartwood, he rightfully pointed out “this is not for the faint-hearted”. The Team quickly agreed, but just as readily recognised there was a unique and charming character that was awaiting discovery.

For me, as an architectural voyeur, the project offered so many options and at the heart of it - the twin stone huts were a time capsule of early settlement. I wanted to hear its stories and understand its role in the community of the day. 

 

When Pauline and I first walked onto the land, we quickly left behind the suburban street frontage as we wound our way down a walkway of gravel and irregularly spaced stone steps.

You could tell it was once a gardeners delight with the established shrubs and healthy understory. Towering overhead, the canopy of the giant oak stood testament to the years it had offered protection from the weather. Nestled beneath it, the twin stone gables rose up to greet us.

The setting and existing built form was captivating yet in muddled disrepair, I started to question if this is a foolhardy escapade or an exemplar for adaptive reuse architecture.

 

Clearly evident was the building’s importance - of both the era and the area - built 20 years before the surrounding township of Stirling was established.

This exceptional site sits in a significant part of the Mount Lofty Ranges watershed at the spring-head of a natural valley feeding the Upper Onkaparinga Cox Creek Catchment that today supplies up to 30% of metropolitan Adelaide’s water. 

How luscious it must have been, and how important the location - reported in The Observer of December 1898 as “one of the most sequestered and loveliest of the valleys of South Australia”.

Now I really wanted to know why this stone cottage inspired the team to recapture and celebrate its unique built form.

 

Created by skilled craftsman, the oldest buildings are of stone quarried from the site and timber felled nearby. The stone is well laid and remains in good condition, the crafted internal timber work is solid, the generous glassed windows on all sides flood the rooms with light and glorious views exist to the garden and the valley. Investigation above the large hand-hewn stone fireplace exposed the yellowish brown pink tinge of a massive hardwood lintel cleaved from Stringybark heartwood and timber matchboard planking lined the ceilings. To Pauline’s delight, the original hand cut timber shingle roof still existed under the iron roof in the oldest part of the dwelling.

Outside, the swimming pool while structurally sound was thoroughly unused for some time and would respond well to sympathetic care. Delightfully, it was built with deliberate disregard for straight lines, adding to the charm. 

It is true, the original stone dwelling has ‘strong bones’ and the more recent outbuildings show possibility. I sought to find out what was the magic that will pull this together successfully. 

“Older buildings have a specific character evident through their construction, detailing and joinery,” observed Pauline.

“Our approach was akin to adaptive reuse as we were reusing the site and buildings, however, in a more delightful twist, we were also re-establishing them to their original purpose, as a rewarding and pleasant home”.

 

With deliberate intent, the forlorn dwelling is to be conserved through a successful marriage of the existing heritage structures and forward-looking architectural design, adding a contemporary layer to provide value for the future.

 

 

Heartwood | Built 1867  | Reborn 2016  | A celebration of 150 years.

Follow this journey from creative design to active construction as I talk with Pauline Hurren, Principal Architect on Heartwood in each of the next phases of this small piece of early settlement history in one of Adelaide's most sought-after residential areas and prettiest towns in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.

Hello budding home renovators, builders, architectural voyeurs and dreamers alike.

As the Heartwood Project progresses, I spend some more time with Pauline Hurren, acclaimed South Australian Architect and Design Principal on the Heartwood project to discover the inspirations, observations and the possibilities that helped shape this ambitious transformation. 

“Well,” starts Pauline, then pauses, “there are so many ... which makes it hard to know where to start!”

“The first aspect worth noting is the seclusion of the setting, quite unique in a suburban township.

Second, is the history of the built form, those twin parallel stone buildings that are the original family dwelling. Third is the potential of the gardens, for them to be restored too and to truly accent the towering oak tree.

Then there are the bonus aspects of a wonderfully environmental orientation, the splendid, private valley views, the charming swimming pool and the useful outbuildings. As I said, there is so much to love about this property." 

Heartwood is quite a package of pluses for a pioneer settlement cottage, conceived in 1867. It is humble in design, built in simpler times and modestly remodelled over the years. It has weathered many seasons, sheltered in the protective embrace of the enormous oak tree.

Encased within the twin stone gables, early discoveries revealed the original timber shingle roof, now restored and lining the inside of the kitchen.

In the main room, above the hand-hewn stone fireplace lies a huge lintel of Stringybark heartwood, rich with the patina of time. 

“That’s just two of the heritage features we are incorporating into the new design, along with the gardens”, continues Pauline.

With advice from leading South Australian experts in historic and heritage landscaping, the tiered gardens are again responding to care and nurture.

A collection of cool climate Camellias nestle in the shade under the oak tree and scattered across the site are the eucalyptus gums (favoured by many Koalas).

In an open, sunny position is a naturalistic swimming pool facing a green and open valley vista - in serious need of some attention, but amazingly, structurally sound.

The construction challenges all meant serious decisions on how to approach the building stages, so as to best address a steep site, the difficult access for large construction equipment, the number of existing dwellings and outbuildings, the many levels of stone terracing and an elevated pool. 

“It called for some imaginative thinking!” laughs Pauline.

“We wanted to complete the works with a minimum of disruption to the site, including the garden rejuvenation works.”

Negotiation with the neighbour across the valley ensured dry weather access for all the large framing materials on truck and crane through their property to the lower level of the Heartwood site.

The new local stone and all the smaller elements came onto the site at the highest point at the street access and were carried into place. This approach was also used when pumping the foundation concrete where gravity worked with us for a consistent flow and minimal disruption.

So, here’s why I see this setting as so inspirational.

Built on a rare and beautiful site on one of the earliest subdivisions of land in the then emerging Adelaide Hills village of Stirling, formally declared 20 years later in 1888. 

Today, it remains a secluded gem in the hills, surrounded by enormous trees and chirping birds, sheltering beneath an impressive oak, planted as little more than a sprouting acorn by the first resident family.  

Clearly, the original dwelling was constructed as a labour of love and pride. It must have been important in the regions’ early settlement development when first built.

Now, inspired by built form heritage and extraordinary setting, it evolves, embracing its  irreplaceable past, to be reborn as a marvellous home for today, ingeniously re-worked into amazing living for a new family. 

But I'm simply an Architectural Voyeur ... what does our Heartwood expert think?

Enter Dale Gray, Ouwens Casserly Real Estate agent who is closely following the progress of the Hurren Heartwood Team.

“What will be built here is to be a blue-ribbon secluded hideaway built around twin historic stone cottages, transformed through design and craftsmanship into a modern home which offers resort style living in a semi-rural setting. Truly a unique hills property of the future."

 

 

Heartwood | Built 1867  | Reborn 2016  | A celebration of 150 years.

Follow this journey from creative design to active construction as I talk with Pauline Hurren, Principal Architect on Heartwood in each of the next phases of this small piece of early settlement history in one of Adelaide's most sought-after residential areas and prettiest towns in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.

Welcome budding home renovators, builders, architectural voyeurs and dreamers alike.

The Heartwood project is progressing with great intrigue. It is truly exciting as the concepts and likely designs are developed, all premised on respecting the existing dwelling and ensuring it is not overwhelmed by the planned new extension. 

Earlier, we learnt how the site has inspired the direction, now we explore the design possibilities, the wishful options and the other hard choices before Pauline Hurren, acclaimed South Australian Architect and Design Principal on Heartwood.

“From modest to modernist,” emphasises Pauline, “the rebirth honours the historic past while embracing, and preparing for, the needs of today”.

It is certainly clear that Pauline Hurren is breathing new life into the once well-loved bones. The original structure has simple origins, with a little added mystery to be sure. The very fabric of the original construct, and its state of preservation, indicate it has been home for many families, some important, a few prominent and all of them loving. Crafted in 1867, in the then emerging Adelaide Hills village of Stirling it is also rumoured to at one time be one of the very earliest ‘unlicensed premises’ - better known colloquially as a ‘sly grog shop’.

So, I think we can safely say it is a tiersmans cottage and probably the first Stirling Inn albeit unlicensed.

Now, 150 years later, a new vision inculcated within the design concepts sees the two stone parallel huts structurally unaltered, maintaining the original fabric of the building.

A century old oak tree now towers over the new footprint in a protective embrace. No doubt the first resident family planted it as little more than a sprouting acorn. Most likely, its arboreal ‘cousins’ now line the iconic Druid Avenue in nearby Stirling. 

Looking over the design concepts with Pauline, it is quite clearly not an over exuberant expression in design nor construct. There is restraint, detailed thought and imaginative re-adaptation. Let me paint a word picture worthy of the drawings – this new built-form expression is destined for idyllic 21st century living, with the design intent ingeniously re-working the spaces to deliver an amazing lifestyle for a new family.

The original dwelling is to be sympathetically restored and imaginatively expanded.

Existing detailing is being adapted for reuse and window and door sizes are proportionally in keeping. Construction materials are being selected to be compatible with the existing to ensure a cohesive whole to the finished home. A generous glass roofed conservatory links the old with the new maintaining separation yet combining the spaces in charming unity. All very "Hurren".

The future form carefully retains the original charm of this property, with its rambling gardens and naturalistic swimming pool.   Also being touched by Pauline’ imagination are the outbuildings, now envisioned as outdoor pavilions with incredible multi-use rooms.   

Pauline is renowned for her work in historic adaptive re-use designs, are moving this project from a straightforward renovation to a higher level where design respects the existing building fabric and seeks to reuse, adapt and find balance between contemporary needs and conservation values. (Take a look at www.hurrenarchitects.com.au for a small insight into Pauline's existing work.)

Already, I feel the wind of excitement rustle in the concept sketches as I appreciate the intent and feel the drive of exceptional design.

 “This is a piece of Australian history,” says Dale Gray our Adelaide Hill's property specialist with Ouwens Casserly Real Estate.

“It is an Adelaide Hill's treasure on a simply captivating parcel of land in an amazing location in easy walking distance from the Stirling main street. Peaceful and quiet yet with quick easy access to main roads - you can be in Adelaide CDB in less than 20 minutes. Understanding the noticeably inspiring design vision and the craftsman’s care that will follow, this property will once again be appreciated as a timeless classic. It truly will be a marvellous home for today.”

 

 

Heartwood | Built 1867  | Reborn 2016  | A celebration of 150 years.

Follow this journey from creative design to active construction as I talk with Pauline Hurren, Principal Architect on Heartwood in each of the next phases of this small piece of early settlement history in one of Adelaide's most sought-after residential areas and prettiest towns in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.