The modern way: The beauty and diversity of some of the country's finest contemporary homes are celebrated in a new book

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Crescent House, Calne, Wiltshire

When Ken Shuttleworth, the founder of Make Architects, designed his own house in Wiltshire as a country retreat for himself and his family, it was always going to be a bit special. The house consists of two crescent-shaped forms connected by a curving corridor, which doubles as a gallery and stretches the length of the building. The bedrooms, bathrooms and private living areas are located in the outer crescent, the solid convex wall of which shelters the house from the nearby road, while the inner crescent contains the open-plan living, kitchen and dining areas. The concave wall of the inner crescent is made from full-height panes of glass, giving an uninterrupted view of the garden. The arms of the inner crescent extend to wrap around the edges of the garden, framing the view and offering additional privacy.

By abandoning the conventional box-like form of domestic buildings the architect has created a unique home, which, while striking in appearance, also provides bright, practical living spaces well shielded from passers-by.

Cottage Extension, Bath, Somerset

Flanked by trees but offering sweeping views of the valley below, this secluded house near Bath has two parts: a crenellated stone gamekeeper's cottage dating from 1786 and a modern linear extension. The low-budget home was designed for his family by the architect Piers Taylor of Mitchell Taylor Workshop, who chose to leave exposed the utilitarian materials used in its construction. Shuttering ply was used for the walls and the frame was made of local green oak. Stainless-steel bolts punctuate the external skin, and much of the exterior is clad in dark-grey corrugated sheets, echoing the Dutch barns common to the area. The old cottage accommodates the staircase and a snug living-room and guest bedroom, while the extension has an open-plan living, kitchen and dining area and bedrooms.

Stealth House, London

Stealth House stands between a Modernist detached house and an adjoining Edwardian terrace in south-east London. It replaces an ugly 1950s building, which was abruptly set back from the terrace. The new building was designed by Robert Dye Associates with two different street-setback lines to reconcile it with its disparate neighbours.

The house has an inner core, which is rendered in pale grey K-rend, a traditional Irish material made from crushed rubble. A gap separates the core from the redwood cladding, giving the impression that the outer skin is floating on the inner core. From the street, Stealth House appears to be a two-storey black structure with a grey pitched roof, but the monopitch hides a third storey with a double bedroom and en suite bathroom opening on to a roof terrace at the rear.

'100 Houses: Modern Designs for Contemporary Living' by Cathy Strongman is published by Merrell, £29.95. To order a copy at a special price, including p&p, call Independent Books Direct on 08700 798 897

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