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THUNDERBIRD Architect: Seven Developments Housebuilder: Seven Developments Thunderbird owes its inspiration to the wingspan of an eagle, rather than the fictional Tracy Island homestead. Yet Gerry Anderson's superheroes would not look out of place saving the planet in this futuristic Dorset mansion.

The house, in Branksome Park, Poole, was designed by Eddie Mitchell, managing director of Seven Developments, and replaced a dominating mock-Tudor residence typical of this locale. The concept endured a bumpy ride through planning - six designs were rejected before Thunderbird got all systems go - and it is not difficult to imagine why this maverick concept rufed a few feathers down at the town hall.

Thunderbird is characterised by curvaceous walls, huge glass elevations and a dramatic pitched copper roof. It stands bravely apart from conservative mansions in the district. This eccentric individuality enchanted the judges and won Mitchell a National HomeBuilder Design Award for the second consecutive year.

Its green credentials - notably heat-insulating glass, energysaving lighting and Thermolite brick internal skin - were cited as a benchmark for developers in this sector.

However, the progressive ethos of the scheme was said to be diminished by the surprisingly retro, brassy interiors. Mitchell may have been aiming for James Bond sophistication but has delivered Austin Powers pastiche. The most striking internal feature is the spiral staircase, characterised by chrome handrails, swathes of royal blue carpet and LED colour-change lighting.

It took 23 weeks to build Thunderbird, from the fully fitted gym and home cinema to the Poggenpohl kitchen and the illuminated silver piano set on a glass oor. The judges agreed it took enormous self-belief to create this idiosyncratic dwelling, which is both sensitive to its surroundings and a future landmark.


Architect: Harrison Sutton Partnership Housebuilder: Gerald Wood

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