School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Professor Adam Sharr

Head of School

Background

Introduction

Adam Sharr was appointed Head of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University in August 2016. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Cambridge University Press' international architecture journal arq: Architectural Research Quarterly; Series Editor of Thinkers for Architects, published by Routledge; and Principal of Adam Sharr Architects.

Before coming to Newcastle as Professor of Architecture in 2010, Adam worked at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, and Nottingham University, having previously practiced with Wright and Wright Architects, Dean Hawkes Architect and the conservation practice Carden and Godfrey.

Adam is author or editor of six books on architecture including Heidegger's Hut (MIT Press, 2006), Heidegger for Architects (Routledge, 2007), Reading Architecture and Culture (Routledge, 2012) and Demolishing Whitehall: Leslie Martin, Harold Wilson and the Architecture of White Heat (co-written with Stephen Thornton, Ashgate, 2013; Commended RIBA President's Awards for Research, 2014). He is presently working on a book on modern architecture commissioned by Oxford University Press as part of their Very Short Introductions series.

His practice work has focussed primarily on dwellings - having designed new houses in Germany, Wales and England - and libraries and learning spaces - having worked on projects for London Metropolitan and Newcastle Universities. Alongside his own architectural practice, Adam works with APL's 'Design Office' design research consultancy.

Qualifications

BSc (Hons.), BArch (Dist.), Ph.D, ARB, RIBA

Previous Academic Positions

Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University
Nottingham University

Memberships

Architects Registration Board
Royal Institute of British Architects

Research

Research Interests

My research concerns: how architecture displays the values involved in its inhabitation, construction, procurement and design; shifting relations between theory and practice in architecture; practice-based and practice-led research in architecture; conservation, memory and heritage; ideas of quality, taste, expertise and 'the everyday'; phenomenology; postcolonialism; and post-war British Architectural History (especially design methods, typology and the science of land use and form).

Practice Expertise + Practice-led Research

I have practice expertise in the design of houses and housing; library and learning spaces and; in architectural conservation.

My practice portfolio includes houses for private clients completed in the Oberschwaben, Germany (2009) and in mid-Wales (2006). Other projects have included house extensions, a field study centre, and repairs and alterations to both a Grade 2 listed house in the Cotswolds and a house by the modernist architect John Madin in Birmingham. I am currently working on a new house in the Tyne Valley, UK. The practice portfolio is online at www.adamsharr.com 

With the Design Office at Newcastle University, I've been involved in a DECC-funded study looking at balancing conservation values with sustainable technologies at Hexham Abbey (2011); work to conserve and alter modernist buildings on the University campus (2012); and alterations to the Grade 2* listed Armstrong Building at the University (ongoing).

Recent Research

Thinkers for Architects

I am editor of the ‘best-selling’ book series Thinkers for Architects published by Routledge, shortlisted for the RIBA Presidents’ Medals for Outstanding University Located Research in 2008. The series aims to outline what particular theorists and philosophers have to offer for architects, locate their architectural thinking in the context of their work, introduce significant texts, and point architects toward significant insights for design. Volumes in the series have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish. My own book in the series, Heidegger for Architects (2007), deals with the philosopher’s work on dwelling and place, and with questions of authenticity and provincialism raised by his work.

Heidegger's Hut

That book draws from my previous book Heidegger’s Hut (MIT Press, 2006), which examined how the thinker’s work emerged from his mountain retreat at Todtnauberg. Heidegger’s Hut has been reviewed widely, in New York Times, Los Angeles Times, TLS, Bookforum, Cultural Politics, Chronicle of Higher Education (US), Journal of Architectural Education and Architectural Record. It is also translated into Spanish (Gustavo Gili, 2008), German (Brinkmann and Bose, 2010) and Czech (Archa, 2013).

Reading Architecture and Culture

A research methods reader (which emerged to some extent from the Heidegger’s Hut book), Reading Architecture and Culture: Researching Buildings, Spaces and Documents was published in 2012. An edited collection of essays aimed at consolidating a distinctive strand of architectural research, it proposes reading buildings and their details as artifacts of the cultures in which they were inhabited, procured, designed and built. Contributors include David Leatherbarrow, Marco Frascari, Jane Rendell, Jonathan Hill, Michael Cadwell, George Dodds, Flora Samuel and Diana Periton.

Demolishing Whitehall

Demolishing Whitehall: Harold Wilson, Leslie Martin and the Architecture of White Heat was published by Ashgate in 2013, an interdisciplinary architecture, politics and history book - co-written with Stephen Thornton, Politics, Cardiff University - about the architect Leslie Martin’s 1965 scheme to rebuild Whitehall, London's government district. Two years after Harold Wilson’s ‘white heat of technology’ speech and three years before the ‘evenements’ of 1968, Martin’s proposal displays the particular priorities of its time. The book examines the Whitehall project as a distinctive manifestation of Wilson's Britain, in which technology was claimed for the socialist project as an instrument of popular salvation. So far, the book has been reviewed in Architectural Review, Architecture Today, Urban History, Planning Perspectives and The Art Newspaper.

Quality and Primitive

I am also the co-editor of two books which have emerged from conferences I co-organised. Quality Out of Control: Standards for Measuring Architecture, with Allison Dutoit and Juliet Odgers, was published by Routledge in 2010, examining the widespread disagreement about what quality in architecture is, and how it might be measured and achieved. In 2006, Primitive: Original Matters in Architecture, with Juliet Odgers and Flora Samuel, was published, also by Routledge.

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome PhD and MPhil applicants and would be delighted to discuss projects related to my research, or in architecture and architectural culture more broadly.

Graduated:

  • Yasser Megahed, PhD by Creative Practice, Practiceopolis: Journeys in Architectural Practice, co-supervised with Graham Farmer (Passed 2017)
  • Jose-Luis Hernandez-Hernandez, PhD by Creative Practice, Space Thickening and the Digital Ethereal: Production of Architecture in the Digital Age, co-supervised with Martyn Dade-Robertson (Passed 2017)
  • James Longfield, PhD by Creative Practice, Making Byker: The Situated, Amateur Practices of a Citizen Architect, co-supervised with Katie Lloyd Thomas (Passed 2016)
  • Mhairi McVicar, PhD, Precision in Architectural Production (Passed 2016)
  • Tom Brigden, PhD, AHRC funded: The Protected Vista: An Intellectual and Cultural History, As Seen From Richmond Hill (Passed 2014; Commended: RIBA President's Awards for Research, 2014)
  • Samuel Austin, PhD, AHRC funded: Travels in Lounge Space: Placing the Contemporary British Motorway Service Area (Passed 2012)
  • Edward Wainwright, PhD, AHRC funded: Transparency and Obfuscation: Norman Foster, Henri Lefevbre and the Politics of Modern Architecture (Passed 2011)

Current PhD Students:

  • Marga Munar Bauza, PhD, The Complexity of Urban Boundaries
  • Yun Dai, PhD, Architectural Heritage in China (co-supervised with John Pendlebury)
  • Kieran Connolly, PhD by Creative Practice, Default in Architecture (co-supervised with Samuel Austin)
  • Ashley Mason, PhD by Creative Practice, A Coincidental Plot, For Architecture (co-supervised with Katie Lloyd Thomas)
  • Sam Clark, PhD by Creative Practice, Exploring the Needs of Older People: Towards Typologies of Design (co-supervised with Rose Gilroy)
  • Thomas Kern, PhD, Monolithic Construction (co-supervised with Graham Farmer)
  • Ray Verrall, PhD, The RIBA Oxford Conference, 1951 (co-supervised with Zeynep Kezer)
  • Hazel Cowie, PhD, Lifestyle Consumption (co-supervised with Samuel Austin)
  • Daniel Goodricke, PhD by Creative Practice, AHRC funded, Remiagining Children's Spaces with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children's Books (co-supervised with Prue Chiles and Matthew Grenby)

Other roles and responsibilities

  • Editor-in-Chief, arq (Architectural Research Quarterly, published by Cambridge University Press), 2014-date (Editor of arq, 2009-2013 and Associate Editor 2004-2009)
  • Series Editor: Thinkers for Architects, published by Routledge. 2006-date
  • Editorial Board Member: Critical Studies in Architecture Series, published by Routledge.
  • Editor (and Founding Editor): made (Materials: Architecture Design Environment, published by the Welsh School of Architecture), 2004-2009
  • Founding Member and Steering Group Member: AHRA (Architectural Humanities Research Association), 2003-2013.
  • Invited International Lectures: University of La Coruña, Spain (2009); Virginia Tech, USA (guest speaker at Virginia Tech conference Constructing Imagination) (2010), Université de Montreal, Canada (2010); UCD, Dublin (2013).
  • Founder Member and Steering Group Member, AHRA (Architectural Humantities Research Association), 2004-date
  • Awards Assessor: RIBA Presidents’ Awards for Research, 2012-2013, 2015
  • Awards Assessor: RIBA Awards, Wales, 2009.
  • Awards Assessor: RIBA Presidents’ Medals Dissertation Prizes, 2005.

  • External Examiner: MPhil in Architecture and Urban Studies, University of Cambridge, 2017-2019
  • External Examiner: BA, MArch, University College, Dublin, 2017-2019
  • External Examiner: MArch, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China, 2015-2018.
  • External Examiner: BArch, Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art, 2013-2016.
  • External Examiner: MA in Architectural History, Bartlett, UCL, 2011-2014.
  • External Examiner: MSc in Architecture, University of Ulster 2009-2011.
  • External Examiner: PhD: Bartlett, UCL (2007, 2011); University of Edinburgh (2008, 2009, 2012); University of Sheffield (2009, 2015)
  • Invited Design Critic / Invited Lecturer: Universities of: Cambridge; Bath; UCD; Liverpool; Nottingham; Aberdeen; London Metropolitan; West of England.

Honours and Awards

2014: Demolishing Whitehall: Harold Wilson, Leslie Martin and the Architecture of White Heat, Commended: RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding University Located Research

2008: Thinkers for Architects, Shortlisted: RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding University Located Research

2007: Heidegger’s Hut, Winner: Scholarly Illustrated Category, American Association of University Presses Book, Journal and Jacket Show.

2006: New House at Llethr, Llysdinam, Newbridge-on-Wye, Shortlisted: RIBA Awards

1995: Joint First Prize, SPAB Philip Webb Award

Teaching

My teaching has ranged across the discipline of architecture from design studio to history, theory and technology. Most recently, I have led the final year of the MArch programme and contributed numerous lectures to modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I supervise nine PhD students.

In academic year 2013-14, one of my MArch design students won, and another was commended in, the RIBA's Hadrian Medal awards. My PhD student Tom Brigden, co-supervised with Andrew Law, was commended in the PhD Thesis category of the RIBA President's Awards for Research.

Publications