The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Robert Harvey’s masterpiece about to be ruined

Coventry Council has granted permission for an insensitive extension to South Winds, a private house in Coventry designed by the architect Robert Harvey. The Twentieth Century Society is disappointed to learn that, although the building was put forward for spot listing earlier this year, the council has made this surprising decision. This is especially disappointing since another of Harvey’s houses in Coventry, 114 Kenilworth Road, was recently saved when the council rejected permission for its demolition and replacement. The house, built in 1957, was subsequently added to the statutory list at Grade II.

South Winds, built in 1965, is a mature work and arguably of greater sophistication than 114 Kenilworth Road. It is considered Harvey’s best building. Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, the timber clad garden elevation has a strong horizontal character, with the main living rooms raised to first floor level over a car port and leading onto a full width balcony. This would be ruined by the huge extension which, although attempting to imitate Harvey’s style, would destroy the clarity of the composition.

It has to be asked why Coventry’s planning authority is prepared to endorse such damage to one of the city’s finest post-war houses before the outcome of the listing request is known, in spite of the positive precedent set by 114 Kenilworth Road. Coventry is not a city that can afford to lose buildings of this quality.

The Society expects a reply from the DCMS regarding the listing later this week.

For further information please contact:
Cordula Zeidler, Caseworker, The Twentieth Century Society , tel 020 7250 3857, or email Cordula.Zeidler(at)