Reporting to all budding home renovators, builders, architectural voyeurs and dreamers alike. We follow the Heartwood Project as it continues to excite, moving from design concepts to drafting the comprehensive plans that will guide its rebirth. 

Thus, the challenge at this project stage is to develop the design idea into a coherent proposal succinctly detailing the way forward. Importantly, and for the benefit of this project’s outcome, the Hurren Architecture values make up an important part of what has influenced the series of steps that follow design.

For Pauline Hurren, acclaimed South Australian Architect and Design Principal on Heartwood, adapting the existing buildings is the chosen, viable alternative to their demolition as this responds to the Hurren desire for environmental care and sustainability. 

As Pauline points out "This is because adaptive reuse entails less energy and waste, protects the building's heritage values - both its socio-cultural and historic meanings - while giving them a new lease of life."

The practice of designing, constructing and then activating buildings is most usually a collective effort of different groups of professionals and trades. The Hurren Architecture methodology for Heartwood is more than just interpreting the final design option selected and documenting the planning for building it. Their approach and process has matched the size, complexity, materials and purpose of the project with the skills of the tradesmen, who are true craftsmen in adaptive re-use of historic buildings. 

Laid out before me is what will be a beautiful family home of 7 main rooms including the stunning glass roofed conservatory. It is a very liveable place, offering 3 bedrooms, 2 living areas, dining room, a media room, 2 bathrooms, kitchen with Butler’s Pantry, and laundry. All seamlessly linked to extensive outdoor space and terracing.

Then of course there’s the two outbuilding adjacent the swimming pool – one also to be converted into useable and practical entertaining spaces. One becomes a Studio with living accommodation, bathroom and kitchenette, fabulous for extended families or older teenagers. The other building will be a Games room.

"Our architectural plans articulate the design by specifying the multitude of practical, physical requirements and timings to achieve the intended design solution as it evolves," states Pauline, continuing "It is a fluid process. Continuous improvement and refinement is an integral part of these working documents responding to the site and built form."


Looking at these handcrafted plans, elevations and perspectives are exciting. They beautifully communicate the unique ideas and passionate concepts, so that the project managers, construction workers and artisan tradespeople are eager to commence the transformation.

Surveyor John Baker, who was appointed as Project Manger early on, echoes this. “At the core, it is a truly unique project, central to its identity being the rough stone and hand-hewn timbers with the newest expressions embracing glass and timber," notes John. 

"Another aspect that excited me was the historical aspects, which saw me talking with local historians and searching the State Archives for details about its former uses," continues John.

For those that get excited about such things, these architectural drawings are conventionally drawn in ink on paper and are amazing in two significant ways.

Firstly, that these are not mass-produced, cut-and-paste computer plans, these are real. Laboriously - and lovingly - drawn by hand as the mind works through the options and the delivery channels. They are superb in their own right. While hand crafted, these plans articulate the building and its footprint. They contain the required set of conventions, including particular views, sheet sizes, units of measure and scales, along with numerous annotations and cross referencing to represent the buildings already existing and those that are proposed. 

Secondly, the scope of detailed attention. Every elevation, every cross section, every Isometric and axonometric projection is lovingly crafted and draws you into visualising the end form. The facades are both different and complimentary as they talk with their surroundings on each compass point. 

Then the view lines through the buildings evidence excellent linkages for living, describing well the relationship between different levels of the new and old buildings“ such as how the conservatory relates to the upper floor, the ground floor, internally to each built area as well as to the pool and gardens.

They even include a comprehensive set of working drawings for building construction including structural and services engineer's drawings, roads, parking areas, footpaths, hard landscaping, significant trees and intended planting. They also detail all the services connections: drainage and sewer lines, water supply, electrical and communications cables, exterior lighting etc.

There's a lot going on here. These architectural perspectives and projections cleanly represent a three dimensional view of what will be, keeping the elements to scale and showing the relationship between several sides of the new construct, so that the complexities of shape, materials and design can be clearly understood.

Dale Gray, a specialist of Adelaide Hills property with Ouwens Casserly Real Estate on review of the architectural plans commented “I believe ‘Heartwood’ will embrace you from your first glimpse: proud, gracious yet warm and welcoming. The mid 1800's original homestead has been sympathetically extended and renovated capitalising on its northerly aspect. The substantial improvements are impressive, yet practical. This will be a private and picturesque hills hideaway.”

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.