South Winds – a house that has been noticed
Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, this five bedroom mid 1960s house on Cryfield Grange Road in Coventry has been listed at grade II. The architectural brief for this house, specified by the client Mr Wilson, was that it should be “a house that would be noticed”. A generous budget was provided, and the architect Robert Harvey of York Harper and Harvey had a free hand in terms of the design. The work was carried out by the skilled craftsmen of Mr Wilson’s own building firm (photo: Al Deco, with permission).
This two storey building with a strong horizontal emphasis is constructed of teak, concrete, stone and glass, and the plan reflects the careful thought that was given to the functioning of family life. The lower storey is divided into two sections, a circular swimming pool to the west and entrance hall to the east, divided by a central garage or car port space. A curved stone staircase leads up to the principal accommodation on the first floor which comprises the living accommodation, an open plan panelled sitting room adjacent to the kitchen at the east side, and bedrooms to the west, which lead off from a northern bedroom corridor. All the bedrooms, each lined with contrasting hessian have full height sliding glass doors which lead out onto a wide south facing balcony giving views over the garden.
The degree of intact survival within the house is very high, and the original plan is almost unaltered. Many of the original fittings are still in place, including kitchen cupboards, mosaic tiling and bathroom fittings and even a recessed electric wall clock.
Robert Harvey was born in Coventry in 1919 and studied architecture at the Birmingham School of Art. In their listing report, English Heritage note that Harvey is the most distinguished of a small group of idiosyncratic group of Birmingham trained architects who closely followed the work of Frank Lloyd Wright before he became fashionable. During the course of his career he designed over fifty houses, mainly in Warwickshire. Several are already listed including No.114 Kenilworth Road, Coventry, (Grade II), Harvey’s own house Stonecrop, Ilmington, Warwickshire (Grade II*) and Debden Hollow, Barford, Warwickshire (Grade II). English Heritage point out that no other strictly regional architect of the period has so many houses listed – an indication of the quality of his designs.
In the reasons for listing South Winds, English Heritage state:
Architectural interest: a notable example of a house inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright designed by a significant regional architect, Robert Harvey;
Materials: built using materials of high quality and carefully finished with considerable attention to detail;
Planning: the house was carefully designed to cater for the various needs of family life in the 1960s and its function can be clearly seen in the well-considered plan and internal finishes; and
Intactness: the house has been little altered and retains its original plan and a high proportion of its original fittings.