ARCHITECT Andrea Millner, who 20 years ago was the only girl in class to study woodwork instead of cookery, has proved her career choice correct after being shortlisted for two projects in a national awards scheme.

Mrs Millner runs Cora Design Ltd. of Wolverley, near Kidderminster and was invited by North Worcestershire Building Control to submit her work on two unique house projects for the competition. Her design for a contemporary seven bedroomed house called The Drift in the Rowney Green area of Alvechurch, which has floor to ceiling glazed gables, is nominated as best individual new home. While her other shortlisted achievement, in the same category, is an impressive five-bedroomed house on an idyllic Green Belt site in Woodgate, Redditch, where two Victorian railway carriages had previously been linked by a shed roof to create a makeshift dwelling.

The projects are finalists in the West of England region of the Local Authority Building Control awards, with winners due to be announced at a ceremony in Bristol on June 20.

“I’m bowled over to have two of my projects shortlisted for these prestigious awards, which reflect excellence in the way design and construction teams have wrestled with difficult sites and found creative solutions,” said Mrs Millner. “Both of my shortlisted projects involved working closely with planners to gain permission and building control approval for innovative new homes to overcome issues specific to the sites involved.”

She was commissioned by the owners of The Drift to design an extension to their existing four bedroomed home, originally built in the early 1970s. But she ended up proposing that the existing house should be demolished and replaced with a brand new home with seven bedrooms, all en suite, with very little cost difference when VAT is no longer applicable.

“We used the existing foundations and kept the old drainage and underground services for the new building, with a huge cost saving.”

The second project, at Woodgate, is in the Green Belt, where new homes are generally restricted on their size. However, Mrs Millner managed to get approval for a large home – again with vaulted ceilings and boasting a long galleried landing – which won the support of planners.

She said: “I do try to add the wow factor to all of the projects I work on – often vaulted ceilings and lots of light – but it always has to be in a way that helps a house to flow well and to work on a practical level.”

Mrs Millner. who is now 49, broke the mould as a teenager when she was the only girl to study woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing instead of domestic sciences.

She graduated from the Birmingham School of Architecture as one of the top two students on her course and has since worked on designs including a £1 million apartment in Birmingham, a women’s refuge in Ludlow, villas abroad, as well as new houses and extensions.