Sunnywood Drive
Haywards Heath, West Sussex


Architect: Berthold Lubetkin

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“The house that smiles back at you”

Designed by the leading architect Berthold Lubetkin in 1936, this Grade II-listed three-bedroom house is one of a small number of modernist homes in Haywards Heath. Original 1930s architectural features define the interior, such as the rectilinear fenestration, a curved concrete staircase, and the original internal doors and Crittall windows, with internal living space of almost 960 sq ft extending over two storeys. Private gardens of around 150 ft unfold at the rear, and planning permission has been granted to convert the garage and garden studio into around 460 sq ft of living space. Direct rail services from Haywards Heath, a 20-minute walk away, connect to London Bridge and London Victoria in around 45 minutes.

The Architect

Berthold Lubetkin (1901-1990) was one of the most important figures of the Modern Movement. In 1932 he founded the famous Tecton practice along with Architectural Association graduates Lindsay Drake, Valentine Harding and Godfrey Samuel. Among its first commissions were the iconic Penguin Pool and Gorilla House for London Zoo, both unique early examples of modernism in the UK. Lubetkin and Tecton’s buildings went on to become some of the most iconic of the period, and include private houses in Sydenham, one of the UK’s only modernist terraces in Plumstead, south London, Finsbury Health Centre and the Highpoint apartments in Highgate. For more information, please see the History section below.

The Tour

Sunnywood Drive is a quiet residential road, located just to the south of Victoria Park. A paved front driveway provides private off-street parking, and front gardens are planted with mature shrubs and perennial beds and borders. The primary entrance, accessed by a side passageway, is set on the easterly façade and leads into a central hallway.

The primary living rooms are organised in an open-plan layout, defined by a long line of Crittall windows with louvred wooden shutters that bring in an excellent quality of easterly light over the course of the day. Original floorboards run underfoot, and a modern log burner sits centrally. The dining room is interconnected, accessed via the 1930s bi-folding doors finished with the original door furniture. Large Crittall doors frame lovely views of the garden.

Updated in recent years, the kitchen sits on the westerly side of the plan, where lines of cabinetry house appliances and work surfaces provide plenty of space for cooking. The original bell system remains intact on one wall and an external door leads to the upper terrace and gardens.

The curved staircase is a defining architectural feature, creating a sense of volume with a skylight drawing light down from overhead. Three double bedrooms and a family bathroom are positioned on the upper floor, each with good natural light.

Planning permission and listed building consent is also in place to demolish the garage and extend the house, allowing for the construction of a new ground-floor kitchen/breakfast room, a utility space with a WC, and a lower-ground-floor home office.

Outdoor Space

Upper terraces lead from the side passage or kitchen and down into the extensive rear gardens. The original garage lies to one side, with a garden studio or workshop added in recent years. The west-facing gardens offer an excellent provision of outside space. Expanses of lawn are bordered by perennial beds and borders, with mature woodland creating a backdrop at the foot of the garden. Here, an additional outhouse houses a brick-built, wood-fired oven.

The Area

Sunnywood Drive is a quiet residential area, located just south of Victoria Park. The house is a short walk from the town centre and its broad selection of shops, cafés, restaurants and the train station, where direct commuter services run into London Victoria and London Bridge in around 47 minutes.

The surrounding area is well-renowned for its wide, open countryside with extensive cycling and walking networks. Just a 20-minute drive from the South Downs National Park, the location is ideal for visiting landmarks such as Cissbury Ring, Devil’s Dyke, and Arundel Castle. The adjacent hills and plains are now producing the most highly regarded of the new English sparkling wines as well as organic meats and vegetables, sold in an impressive network of local vintners and farm shops.

The historic market town of Horsham is around a 30-minute drive west; originally established as a centre for horse trading in medieval times, hence the name, it later became known for brickmaking and brewing. For a further range of shopping, schooling and dining opportunities, Uckfield, East Grinstead and Lewes are all within a 30-minute drive.

The West Sussex Coast is also easily reached and is peppered with popular seaside towns that have seen significant regeneration in recent times. Brighton is around 35 minutes by car, with some excellent restaurants and all the amenities of a city. Worthing, Angmering, Arundel and Chichester are under an hour’s drive away. Gatwick International Airport is 13 miles from the house.

Council Tax Band: C

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.


Lubetkin was commissioned by the client, a developer, to design a pilot scheme of modern houses for ‘ordinary people’, as opposed to the wealthy clientele that Tecton had previously attracted. The broader scheme would encompass over 60 homes, and the initial planning application was denied.

The resulting eight homes of this style, with their brick façades referencing the local vernacular, were quite unusual for Tecton. Each followed one of three distinct layouts: ‘Type A’, the smallest, semi-detached, ‘Type B’, two detached homes and ‘Type C’, characterised by curved concrete porches and the fireplace with its enclosed stair snaking around the chimney.

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