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.


For all budding home renovators, architectural voyeurs and dreamers alike, we continue to follow the exciting Heartwood project evolve from historic 19th century huts to rebirth as a home for today. The plans are complete, so I thought it would be interesting to look at the history of this little hut in the Hills.

In South Australian settlement, the 1850’s were an interesting time. Development was rapidly expanding the footprint of Adelaide, pushing the populace across the plains and into the surrounding Hills. 

The area where Heartwood sits was wild unknown country, the realm of tall, substantial gums and areas of closed forest. The first recorded expedition into the area revealed, “the luxuriance of the plants and underwood by the side of the brook … in many places over our heads … and the lower parts interlaced with creeping plants …”

On the upper slopes of Mount Lofty, timber-getters were very busy – both legally and illegally. It was an isolated spot but never really lonely. The silence of the stringy-bark forest was punctuated by the cries of rosellas, magpies and wattlebirds and by the thud of the timber fellers’ axes. Creaking bullock carts loaded with stringy-bark batons went past every day. These Stringybark forests attracted the first Europeans who ventured here, as the timber was needed in the developing settlement for posts, rails and roofing shingles. 

Planning for the township of Stirling began in 1853 when the Governor granted almost 200 acres, including the Heartwood site, to Peter Prankerd and Robert Stuckey, who quickly subdivided it. 

The two-acre Heartwood site, purchased in 1854 for twenty pounds, enabled the Evans family to be the first residents. Richard Evans was the roads master for the Crafers to Biggs Flat section of what is known as Old Mount Barker Road and was a local founding member of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows. After some years, the Evans moved to Biggs Flat and the property was tenanted. Richard died in 1896 and Catherine, his wife, died the year earlier. 

Plains dwellers nicknamed the 'mountain' inhabitants Tiersmen, because they came from the Tiers, the earliest popular name for the Adelaide Hills. They typically built isolated bark huts beside permanent springs as few of these early settlers could afford the time, or money to build any dwelling more impressive. 

This makes the stone buildings of Heartwood so much more intriguing – considering the owners, the era and the area. Clearly evident is the building’s importance in the use of materials, its construct and the siting at the springhead of a natural valley that is still luscious to view.

Of elementary format, the dwelling was large for its time. The initial building of stone features a well-laid roof of timber shingles. The floorplan is configured as three rooms, largest in the centre with very generous glass windows. A charming Hobbit-like entry into the vestibule with a low timber matchboard ceiling, opens up to a large room with, by comparison, a cathedral ceiling. A small room duplicates the vestibule at the rear providing access to the gardens beyond.

Soon after, a mirror building was added, not in the usual L or T addition but as a parallel stone building sharing a common wall. As one expansive living area it features an enormous fireplace of workmanlike design with a wonderful Stringybark heartwood lintel. Here, even more generous window glass and with french doors to overlook the valley.

Some believe that around this time, Stephen Gould, one of the earliest Tiersmen, operated unlicensed premises from a small stone hut east of the intersection of Gould Road and Old Mount Barker Road – could this have been Heartwood? We haven't been able to confirm or deny.

Nearby in early 1863/4, Stirling East residents and wealthy landowner Peter Prankerd begun erecting a school out of their own resources. After some heavy lobbying, this soon became a new licensed schoolhouse with the help of some government favour and funding. Immediately, the school grounds became used by local farmers and market gardeners to hold an annual Produce Show.

At Heartwood, Thomas Henzell, his wife and their four children were tenants in the Evan's owned home. Council records of 1867 identify that improvements were made to the Heartwood property. Thomas was the schoolmaster at the local school and his wife, a tutor. When Thomas died from an accident in 1867, his widow and four young children stayed on, with two of the daughters still attending the school in 1873. One was named Florence so fittingly, one of the paint colours specified for Heartwood is a luxurious green called 'Sweet Florence'.

The Evans family held ownership until 1941 when Frank and Quinith Patterson became the owners and residents. Paterson being a tank maker and sheet metal worker set up workshop here, then relocating the business activity to Stirling’s main street. In the late 1950’s they subdivided their home and property, selling the vacant land to Andrew and Cora Scott and the very old stone cottage to Robert Ritchie, who in 1960 sold it to Frank and Joan Jennings who then sold in 1979 to Peter and Barbara Gluyas.

Renovations and additions over the 150 years were reasonably unsympathetic. New amenity was added with electrics and wet areas installed along with the construction of outbuildings. An iron roof overlaid the original timber shingles.

Most recently the Hurren team became the owners and transformational angels who will restore, renovate, remodel and rebuild Heartwood. The twin huts are to link to the new build through a glass roofed conservatory large enough for a living space in its own right.

It will retain its historic integrity too, as an example of an unobtrusive, human scale design sympathetically demonstrating early European settlement in a rural setting. 

After 150 years, new life is breathing again in these unique buildings.

Closely following Heartwood is Ouwens Casserly Real Estate agent Dale Gray who says “Only a handful of owners have had the privilege of calling ‘Heartwood’ home since settlement. This evolution from a modest dwelling to a home of ‘grand design’ is magical.”

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, fellow architectural voyeurs and dreamers alike. The Heartwood project is abuzz with activity.

Over a career, some architects gain a reputation for designing in a particular style or by frequent use of an architectural element. In our last blog, we learned of Pauline Hurren’s love of stone – today we look at another ‘Hurrenism’ – the Conservatory. 

After designing hundreds of conservatories over the years, in many different shapes and sizes, it comes as no shock that Heartwood would also be blessed with Hurren signature Conservatory.

Conservatories popped up in the 16th Century as a way of wealthy landowners cultivate citrus – hence the other term for a Conservatory, Orangery. Pauline’s use of Conservatories in her designs is more akin to spaces that embrace the nature outside and make the most of the natural light and sunshine.

For Heartwood, the Conservatory is literally the heart of the home. It is centrally located in the footprint, nestled under the immense oak tree, with views to one side of the terraced gardens and on the other, across the pool and gardens to the private valley beyond. 

And, the warmth of the surrounding stone used in the buildings and landscaping visually echoes the underfloor heating for the winter chills.

Now, as the on site work progresses, you start to appreciate the restraint, detailed thought and imaginative re-adaptation of the original spaces. And as the new built form comes to life, I can see that it will sit well alongside the earlier buildings and integrate and unite all the new-use spaces being created. The glass and timber Conservatory seamlessly brings the old and the new together. Genius.

Pauline explains that a conservatory is a wonderful addition to a home.

“It’s quite a different type of room as it is primarily built with glass walls and roof panels creating a light filled space that connects with the outdoors almost in a 360 degree manner. Here I am visualising a generous glass roofed conservatory to link the old with the new, maintaining separation yet combining the spaces in a charming unity.”

And charming it will be. Let me paint a word picture – 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.

Importantly, this light-touch sensitivity in design allows this linking of new to the old with little disruption physically or visually with the original. 

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

I also notice something else. Giving the illusion that it has been there forever, the new section features an extensive use of traditional weatherboard. Reminiscent of stables or a coach house, the area housing the downstairs and upstairs wet areas of bathrooms, toilets and laundry are enclosed with their services running within the wall cavity. This timber section visually is in perfect proportion to the larger-scale two story stonewall to which it snugly attaches. 

I am also discovering more about the many uniquely demanding skills engaged in shaping this ambitious transformation. It is already evident that true craftsmen are rebuilding Heartwood as a labour of love and a demonstration of a fresh passion.

“Glass. Timber. Stone. These three elements are applied so beautifully at Heartwood,” says Ouwens Casserly Real Estate agent Dale Gray who is closely following the progress of the Hurren Heartwood Team 

“They particularly excite the architect and as they are coming together here, they excite me. The completed combination will reward the future owners aesthetically, visually and practically.”

I can understand how Heartwood 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.

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, fellow architectural voyeurs and dreamers alike,

I would have to say at the very core of Heartwood’s identity is the rough-hewn stone of the original 1867 building. This character is now been combined elegantly with the newest expressions embracing more local stone, new timberwork and expansive use of glass.

Now, anyone who knows Pauline Hurren’s work would have to say that stone is one of her favoured building materials and Heartwood is no exception. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love stone, most homes in my adult life have been stone structures. But I’m intrigued by Pauline’s total fascination with stone. So, when asked, Pauline ponders this thought for a moment.

“Well, this may sound a little esoteric, but I think there is an emotional connection to buildings built with stone. They somehow carry a great deal of meaning that’s inherent in the stone, due to stones enduring history and almost, becoming a legacy of mankind through the ages.”

“Using natural stone for our projects shows care about the environment and a conscious strive to preserve it. The value in natural stone is more than a monetary measure. It involves longevity, ease of maintenance, permanence and stability that far exceeds initial investment.”

Now that’s some statement and it sets me thinking …

Heartwood certainly has enduring legacy as an invaluable expression of early Adelaide Hill’s settlement. But with the new design concepts would Heartwood remain a legacy or indeed become a new legacy.

I understand that natural stone is highly regarded as a premier building material because it reflects unique character, stability and a touch of grandeur. Visually, I appreciate the variations in natural stone’s broad range of colour, pattern and texture, something impossible to replicate in a manufacturing process. And the extra advantage is that because it comes from the earth, from eco-friendly compositions, it is a natural, sustainable choice that responds to the Hurren desire for environmental care and sustainability.

As Heartwood’s stonemason Adrian Barensten points out, a really exceptional feature of the original stone used was that it was quarried from the actual site. 

“The stone required for the new build is a combination of stone found on site or reclaimed from the existing buildings where new openings were made. Additional stone was also sourced from a local stone quarry. This has kept this project authentic,” explains Adrian, adding ''I love stone. I love to express myself in this material!”

While modern power tools like angle grinders and compressed air-chisels are often used to save time when working with stone, at Heartwood the traditional construction techniques followed were as old as the stone itself. The basic tools for shaping and laying the stone the Artisan Stonemasons used included mallets, punch hammers, chisels, splitters and metal straight edges.

This time consuming hands-on skill, complemented by intimate knowledge of each stone and how to work and fix each one in place, produced a result that ensures the whole of the building sits comfortably in its setting.

New stonework was laid to be in keeping with the original stonework, were the stones were left rough and cut irregularly. Known as rubble masonry, the stone walling creates a striking random pattern based on their sizing. 

Aesthetics aside, and if Pauline’s penchant for stone still requires further argument, she has it.

“Considering stone’s low embodied energy, ready availability as a naturally occurring material – in our case locally – with no off-gases to impair indoor air quality, high thermal capacitance and exceptional durability for low maintenance and structural permanence, stone is my preferred material of choice.” 

So, admittedly I am an existing lover of stone – but my love sits more around the romance of the structure and the superior artistic quality that exudes from a stone home. But Pauline and Adrian have given me some substance to my dalliance. I can understand why it is popular in Pauline’s work and ideal for Heartwood.

“There is nothing really like a beautiful stone home in the Adelaide Hills,” says Ouwens Casserly Real Estate Agent Dale Gray who is closely following the progress of the Hurren Heartwood Team.

 “It will be the luckiest family that seizes this opportunity to be part of the ‘Heartwood’ story. Home to glorious sunrises, magnificent sunsets, panoramic garden views, it’s a special place to create your own cherished memories for generations to come.” 

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.