Welcome followers and fellow architectural voyeurs. Challenges of construction always create a ‘healthy tension’ between reviving past glories and meeting present day requirements.

Under the skilled guidance of Pauline Hurren of Hurren Architects, the Heartwood intricate restoration and transformation project continues with plans drawn and trades assembled. But can the dreams be turned into reality?

I started to wonder if the love affair with these delightful stone dwellings would wither under the realities of construction. Was this indeed a foolhardy escapade or will it truly be an example of adaptive reuse architecture and construction.

Moving swiftly from plan to the construction phase, the initial task was to determine just what the site actually offered, or rather didn’t offer, to the Hurren Architectural Team. 

The primary elements of the site comprised of a number of existing dwellings and outbuildings, many levels of stone terracing and an elevated pool. Additionally, it seemed like the structural elements that were to be majestically transformed were scattered across the site with difficult linking access. 

Real opportunities for these disparate outbuildings grew more obvious with the refurbishment of the swimming pool confirmed as a possibility. This was real progress. But still the first sod was yet to be turned.

But, above every other challenge was site access. 

Sounds simple, right? A basic need for any development to get underway is demolition and removal, through to material delivery and construction.  Although, ‘demolition’ sounds a little drastic, as the works here are more akin to salvage and discovery.

However, with only a narrow front street entrance, the construction site is accessed down a steep, winding, and often slippery path, leading onto stone steps. Impossible for any heavy machinery access or indeed even delivery trucks.

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

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

Then, a solution presented itself. Negotiation with the rear neighbour across the valley ensured dry weather access. This enabled all the large framing materials to be delivered on truck and crane through the neighbour’s property to the lower level of the Heartwood site. 

Coming onto the site at street level, the new locally quarried stone was carried down that narrow, slippery path by hand and into place. The higher street access actually was of benefit for pumping the foundation concrete, where gravity worked as an advantage for consistent flow.

With slabs poured, lining bricks delivered, face stone collected and framing timbers ready – construction of the new built form areas now takes shape swiftly and continues quickly while the temperamental Adelaide Hills weather allows.

While this was occurring, the trades were assembled to lovingly further restore the original dwellings. On this stone dwelling transformation, artisans carry out the architectural construction. True craftsmen in the adaptive re-use of historic buildings. But you'll read more on that next time …

“I am enjoying watching the progress as Pauline and her team breathe new life into this special property,” says Ouwens Casserly Real Estate agent Dale Gray.

“It’s not too much to say that while it will remain modest, it is a ‘grand design’ worthy of Heartwood’s core character.”

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.