St Hugo restaurant

How two Adelaide architecture firms turned a run-down 1850 building into the wine-centric St Hugo restaurant. By Kerryn Ramsey

Louis Hugo Gramp wasn’t a real-life saint—he was more of an entrepreneurial spirit. The grandson of Bavarian immigrant Johann Gramp who planted the first commercial vineyard in the Barossa Valley in 1847, Louis Hugo built Gramp & Sons winery into an industry pillar before dying in an aircraft crash at the age of 43.

Hugo’s legacy is apparent in William Jacob’s winery, built more than 150 years ago. Adelaide firm Studio-Gram collaborated with JBG Architects to introduce warmth and modernity to the wine-centric dining room at St Hugo.

The winery’s original ironstone walls impressed Dave Bickmore of Studio-Gram. “Some amazing stonemasons spent a lot of time trying to find little pieces of stone to create the complete walls,” he says.

While the restaurant itself is compact, the complex has a number of different dining and drinking spaces. Guests enter from the carpark to the wine lounge, which is decorated by a stone fireplace and a marble tasting bar. Original arched windows were restored to minimise the impact on the view as much as possible. In addition, the JBG team matched the original blackbutt timber from the exterior to achieve a cathedral ceiling in the restaurant. “From here, it acts as a procession or an anti-space as you make your way into the restaurant,” says Bickmore. Beneath that are the intimate Hugo Gramp Room and the open courtyard area.

“When designing the interior, the first things we looked at were the St Hugo label and the elements that made up the brand. The wine label has a traditional style with a real presence. We wanted detailing and craftsmanship to be inherent in the contemporary interior. In some ways, it supported the quality of the St Hugo brand and their wine.”

The flooring selection—a combination of blackbutt timber, Italian travertine and a South Australian bush stone—produced a robust material palette that ages gracefully over time.

Virtually all the furniture is customised. “We tried to avoid selecting things straight out of a catalogue. Instead, we connected with as many local or at least Australian designers through the process,” says Bickmore.

This includes a sumptuous ‘Aran’ sofa—which surrounds the interior’s fireplace—from Sydney furniture designer, Adam Goodrum. Dining tables are by Lex Stobie, a local Adelaide furniture maker, while other custom finished pieces came from the Italian brand, Mattiasi. This includes a brass ring wrapping the stool legs to act as a footrest. “We also replicated the brass metals that are used throughout the joinery,” says Bickmore. “There’s a real consistency and a holistic approach to allthe details.”

Studio-Gram and JBG completed the project in August 2016, and Bickmore still has a sense of satisfaction.

The sensitive restoration of the original building has been well received, he says—and has even been referred to as “a miracle”.


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