A private house, designed in 1965-6 by Robert Harvey of Yorke, Harper and Harvey for R M and Mrs Wilson and family.
Reason for Listing
South Winds, Cryfield Grange Road, Coventry, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* 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 functioning can be clearly seen in the well-considered plan and internal finishes;
* Intactness: the house has been little altered and retains its original plan and a high proportion of its original fittings.
South Winds was built in 1965-6 to the designs of Robert Harvey of Yorke, Harper and Harvey for R M and Mrs Wilson and their family. Mr Wilson, the client, was a builder and wanted 'a house which would be noticed'. The architects found this to be a liberating job because there was no interference in the design and a generous budget. It was built by Wilson's own firm. Such was Wilson's success in securing a striking design that the house was used by Jaguar Cars in its publicity to launch the XJS model. The house was sold to the family of the present owner in the late 1990s.
Robert Harvey was born in Coventry in 1919 and studied architecture at the Birmingham School of Art, the source of many modern architects in the inter-war period, and one which encouraged a strong interest in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright then and later. Harvey is the most distinguished of a small idiosyncratic group of Birmingham-trained architects who were fascinated by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright before it became fashionable. Harvey corresponded with Wright during the war. In 1950 he joined the office of J. Brian Cooper, whence he was given a day off work that year to hear Wright speak at the Architectural Association in London. After Cooper, he joined the office of Leonard Harper, the father of his student contemporary and friend Ross Harper, whose house in Solihull is already listed. In 1951 this practice amalgamated with that of F W B Yorke, father of the noted modernist architect F R S Yorke, and Harvey took over the latter's Stratford office, specialising in private houses while the Birmingham office handled the more commercial work. Harvey found it difficult to secure planning permission for many of his early houses, especially those around Ilmington in the northern Cotswolds. Ultimately, though, he designed over fifty houses, mainly in Warwickshire. He talked little about his work and remained a strongly private figure. Several buildings by Robert Harvey have now been designated, including No.114 Kenilworth Road, Coventry (Grade II); Harvey's own house, Stonecrop, Ilmington, Warwickshire (Grade II*) and Debden Hollow, Barford, Warwickshire (Grade II). No other strictly regional architect of the period has so many houses listed - an indication of his skill and the quality of his designs.
MATERIALS: the construction is of teak, concrete and glass set on a ground-floor base of Hornton stone, left roughly hewed. The first floor is carried on a smooth concrete slab with deep coffering, formed from a fibre-glass mould.
PLAN: the lower storey is divided into two sections, housing a swimming pool at west and the entrance hall to the east, which also serves as a games room. Between these is a garage space. A curved staircase leads up to the principal accommodation at first floor level. This has living accommodation at the east side and bedrooms to the west, which lead off from a northern bedroom corridor. Both bedrooms and living rooms have glass doors of full height which lead out onto a wide balcony which is south facing and gives views over the garden and to the distant landscape, which includes Kenilworth.
EXTERIOR: the northern, road front has rubble stone walling to the ground floor. This is principally of darker grey colour, with occasional lighter stones for effect. The western walling is curved, mirroring the shape of the circular pool inside, and projects out beyond the first floor. The east walling consists of a rectangular block and a smaller semi-circular block, housing the staircase. They are joined by the glazed front door. Between these two blocks is the garage or car port, which is open to the road side but has a glazed screen of opaque glass to the rear or garden. It is wide enough to accommodate at least three cars. The first floor has walling of wood planks, laid horizontally, with emphatic, recessed joints. Above these are slit windows which run along the length of the front. The stone ground floor walling projects at right, while the first floor projects at left, with a small kitchen balcony, approached from an open-tread staircase. The flat roof has deep eaves with emphatic, boarded edges, and there is a rectangular chimney stack of rubble stone to the east.
The garden front has the projecting walling of the swimming pool to the ground floor at left, but square walling to the games room at right, with full-height sliding windows to the centre of the east block. Between these two stone blocks is the screen of opaque glass. At first floor level the balcony projects at left. A series of sliding glass doors to the individual bedrooms is arranged behind this in the wood-clad walls, as seen on the road front. To the right of this balcony, the first floor projects with a continuous run of deep windows which light the reception space. The flat roof has deep, boarded eaves as before. In front of the ground floor is a stone paved terrace with rubble stone wall and at left a staircase of deep steps describes a quadrant as it descends from the terrace to the garden level.
INTERIOR: teak panelling is used to line the dining room and bar areas of the living space, and the east wall is lined internally in rosewood. The whole of the accommodation is at first floor level and extends across the width of the site. To the east is the living room, dining area and bar area, arranged on an open plan and in direct communication with the kitchen in the front, which has a separate external staircase on the street elevation. These rooms are separated by glass walls from a sun lounge which in turn leads through sliding glass doors to a long balcony. The five bedrooms all open on to this. Thus each room of the house faces south and enjoys views across the fields to Kenilworth. Access to the bedrooms is from a corridor along the north side of the house, with clerestory windows and storage units below. The ground floor contains a games room, carport and an indoor circular swimming pool, with mermaids in the tile pattern. The ground-floor playroom is lined in stone with a coffered ceiling. From here, stone stairs, with a thin steel handrail, rise to a piano nobile. There are exposed joists to the dining and living area ceilings of tropical hardwood and the living room has a built-in sideboard and shelving. The walls of the living area are partly lined with thin cork tiles, flecked with gold, while the bedrooms are lined in contrasting hessian. There are built-in cupboards to the bedroom corridor and original mosaic tilework to the kitchen and the bathrooms. The house was originally provided with an high standard of electrical and mechanical services for the time, with a central vacuum cleaning plant, electrically operated curtain tracks and a complete intercom system between rooms and many of these features remain. Mouldings were eliminated and ceiling heights kept deliberately low to ease cleaning.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: there is a raised stone terrace and quadrant staircase to the rear. The house is on the south side of Cryfield Grange Road, and the garden extends to the City boundary, sloping down towards Kenilworth in the south, to which there are extensive views.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.