wsa staff

Dr Adam Sharr
Senior Lecturer and Fifth Year Chair

Adam Sarr

Research Group: Architectural History and Theory Group


Postal Address:
Welsh School of Architecture
Bute Building, King Edward VII Avenue
CF10 3NB

Telephone: 029 20876728
Fax: 029 20874926

MArch 2 Year Chair
MArch 2 Dissertation Module Leader
Lecture Course Leader: Issues in Contemporary Architecture, BSc yr.3
Contributor to BSc Architectural History and Architectural Technology courses and MA Urban Design
Higher Degree Supervision (first supervisor: 5 PhD students, 2 MPhil students; second supervisor: 1 PhD student, 1 MPhil student)

Research Interests

  • Relationships between theory and practice in architecture
  • Architecture as embodying the ideas of the individuals and cultures in which it has been inhabited, procured, designed and built
  • Cultural memory
  • Quality, quantification and connoisseurship in architecture
  • Taste, expertise and the everyday
  • Architecture and phenomenology
  • Primitivism and postcolonialism
  • Architecture and Magical Realism
  • Post-war British architectural history (especially design methods, typology and the science of land use and form)
  • The nature and methods of architectural research, including practice-led and practice-based research

Contemporary architectural theory, influenced by movements in philosophy, critical theory and literature, seems to be distancing itself from the sort of architectural practice that happens in many offices. I’m interested in this shift, and in changes in the history of architectural ideas, in the models of professional expertise and in the methods of architectural research which have prompted it. I’m involved in architectural research, practice and teaching and use these three as means for mutual exploration.

My practice – Adam Sharr Architects – is involved with a range of work. Two private houses have recently been finished – one in Ingoldingen, Baden, Germany in 2009 and one at Newbridge-on-Wye in Powys in 2007. The latter was shortlisted for the RIBA Awards in 2007 and is described in a chapter of Nicholas Temple and Soumyen Bandyophay’s book Thinking Practice (Black Dog, 2007). Current projects include work to a listed house in the Cotswolds and a proposal for a field study centre for The Llysdinam Trust. The practice portfolio is on-line at

With Richard Weston, I edit arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, Cambridge University Press’ international architecture journal. I also edit the ‘best-selling’ book series Thinkers for Architects with Routledge, shortlisted for the RIBA Presidents’ Medals for Outstanding University Located Research in 2008. The series aims to outline what particular cultural figures 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. My own book in the series Heidegger for Architects (2007) deals with the philosopher’s work on place and dwelling, and with the questions of authenticity and provincialism that are raised by his work. 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 (with Gustavo Gili, 2008) and German (with Brinkmann and Bose, 2010).

Two edited books have emerged from conferences I co-organised at the Welsh School. 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, Juliet Odgers and Flora Samuel and I edited Primitive: Original Matters in Architecture, also with Routledge.

Current writing projects include:

  • Architecture and Culture. A collection of essays aimed at consolidating a distinctive strand of architectural research: reading buildings and their details as artefacts of the cultures in which they were inhabited, procured, designed and built. To be published by Routledge, 2011. Contributors include David Leatherbarrow, Marco Frascari, Michael Cadwell, George Dodds, Jane Rendell and Jonathan Hill.
  • Demolishing Whitehall: Harold Wilson, Leslie Martin and the Architecture of White Heat. An interdisciplinary architecture, politics and history book about Leslie Martin’s 1965 scheme to rebuild Whitehall. 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: technological, utopian, socialist and institutional. Proposal, with Stephen Thornton, Political Science, Cardiff University, presently under consideration.
  • The Sedimentation of Memory: a paper being worked into a book about architecture and memory, widening-out from a particular case study in Berlin to a series of examples addressing how architecture can embody attitudes to the past
  • Ashgate Research Companion to Architecture: a solicited book proposal for a companion to architectural research. 

I have done radio interviews including two on my book Heidegger’s Hut, and am available for media work on architecture and culture more broadly.