Williams Burton Leopardi

North Adelaide Barn

Sophia Leopardi, David Burton, David Handsaker, Caroline Cameron.


150 years of gentle indifference saw the structure of this 19th Century state heritage barn begin to give way. Repairing and stabilising was a large task for it to remain just a ‘shed’ with requirements for new steel supports and hydraulic rams to straighten walls.

A functional brief was expanded with the client’s input to create a space that would become a part of their everyday lives, and has seen a stunning room created that acts a retreat, family room, entertaining space… or just somewhere to absorb the history and story embedded in the stone walls.


The project is an ‘adaptive reuse’ of a utilitarian non-habitable relic. As such, the approach was to manage a transition into a functional and beautiful space without destroying the layering and patina of its earlier life.

We adapted the philosophy of doing as little as possible and as much as necessary when it came to the original materials, and then treating any repair or new insertion, rather than something to disguise, as a visible and identifiable layer to the overall project, but complementary not contradictory.

This was an intensely personal and collaborative project between designer and client with the result being something that is not only functionally successful but truly loved.