All of our projects are research led. This involves research into materials, environmental strategies, sustainable technologies, social relations; building products and more. We have access to numerous resources, and appropriate research is a component of all our work from the smallest jobs to the largest.
Adam has been involved in a number of book projects which are particularly focussed on relationships between the practice of architectural design and architectural theory, cultural theory and philosophy.
Thinkers for Architects and Heidegger for Architects, Routledge
Adam is series editor of Thinkers for Architects and author of the second book in the series which is titled Heidegger for Architects. The series has been widely reviewed - including in Architectural Review, Architectural Record and Building Design - and was shortlisted in 2008 for the RIBA President's Medals for Outstanding Architectural Research.
Confrontation with another view of the world can challenge habits and lubricate the creative imagination. Moreover, alternative views of the culture in which architecture is done can help architects to appreciate their practices differently. The increasing professional specialisation which has characterised post-war practice in Britain can all-too-easily separate architects from the people for whom they build, and promote a specialised vocabulary which practitioners and professionals speak with one another. To think why architecture is done, and how and for whom, is to find opportunities to test or reaffirm professional orthodoxies in stimulating and creative ways.
Each book in the Thinkers for Architects series - written by an architect or architectural critic - summarises what a key thinker has to offer for architects. Clear and accessible, the books prefer a well-rounded view of ideas to the soundbite, shape or manifesto. They come out of architecture and pursue architectural modes of understanding, aiming to introduce a thinker to an architectural audience. Each thinker has a unique and distinctive ethos, and the structure of each book derives from the character at its focus. Each thinker's architectural ideas are located in the body of their work. Significant books and essays are introduced, and key terms are decoded. The books will be the first point of reference, rather than the last word, about a particular thinker for architects. They are not recipes for design, but ways to open rich veins of thinking.
Thinkers for Architects does not straightforwardly comprise any sort of design guide or information store. This is its strength. If architects are to prosper in an increasingly competitive market, then it will be with distinctive judgement and fresh thinking. And that thinking comes about through alternative directions whose inspiration belongs as much beyond the discipline as within it.
Extracts from selected reviews:
"a valuable addition to any studio space or computer lab."
Architectural Record, Ian Volner
"Each unintimidatingly slim book makes sense of the subjects complex theories."
"a creditable attempt to present their subjects in a useful way."
Architectural Review, Timothy Brittain-Caitlin
- Deleuze and Guattari for Architects, Andrew Ballantyne (2007)
- Heidegger for Architects, Adam Sharr (2007)
- Irigaray for Architects, Peg Rawes (2007)
- Bhabha for Architects, Felipe Hernandez (2010)
- Bourdieu for Architects, Helena Webster (2010)
- Benjamin for Architects, Brian Elliott (2010)
- Derrida for Architects, Richard Coyne (2011)
- Gadamer for Architects, Paul Kidder (2012)
- Foucault for Architects, Gordana Fontana-Giusti (2013)
Heidegger for Architects explores the work of philosopher Martin Heidegger which has fascinated architects and architectural theorists. It has informed the designs of architects as diverse as Peter Zumthor, Steven Holl, Hans Scharoun and Colin St. John Wilson. Heidegger's influence on architectural culture has been immense. His criticisms of technology, the authority he found in emotional and bodily experience, and his notions of 'dwelling' and 'place' have shaped practice and criticism. He remains, however, perhaps the most controversial thinker of the last, troubled century. His involvement with the Nazi regime in Germany has brought his thinking into question. Despite this, in architecture, the legacies of his thinking are pervasive. This concise introduction is ideal for architects, students of architecture in design studio and students pursuing courses in architectural history and theory.
Reading Architecture and Culture, Routledge
Architecture embodies the ideologies involved in its inhabitation, construction, procurement and design. It traces the thinking of the individuals who have participated in it, their relationships, and their involvement in the cultures where they lived and worked. In this way, buildings, their details, and the documents used to make them, can be read closely for cultural insights.
This book contains fourteen case studies in the practices of close reading. They show that cultural readings of architecture and its materials can test commonplace assumptions, help architects to appreciate the contexts in which they operate, and indicate ways to think more incisively about design. They suggest that the architects of buildings, and critics awed by them, seldom offer the most reliable accounts of architecture; that buildings and documents are their own best evidence; that, while all buildings have multiple authors, authorship is only one site of meaning among many; and that the documents used to anticipate and describe architecture also exert power over it. Taken together, they demonstrate important research methods which can yield powerful insights for designers, critics and historians, and lessons for students.
The interesting and readable chapters collected in this book address architectural materials which range in size from landscapes to photographs, range in time from the fifteenth century to the early twenty-first, and range geographically from France to Puerto Rico to Kazakhstan. They examine major cultural institutions and house extensions, buildings by famous architects and buildings by designers who are effectively anonymous or who have been forgotten. These essays provide a vital and long-overdue consolidation of the architectural research methods which bind them together.
The book includes contributions from: Michael Cadwell (Ohio); Hugh Campbell (UCD); Marco Frascari (Carleton); Jonathan Hill (UCL); David Leatherbarrow (Penn); Katie Lloyd Thomas (Newcastle); Flora Samuel (Sheffield); Jane Rendell (UCL).
Heidegger's Hut, MIT Press
Adam is author of Heidegger's Hut, published in 2006 by MIT Press in English and in 2008 by GG in Spanish. Reviews have been published in Los Angeles Times, TLS, Bookforum, Cultural Politics, Chronicle of Higher Education (US) and Wilson Quarterly. Adam was also interviewed about the book by ABC National Radio Australia.
Beginning in the summer of 1922, philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) occupied a small, three-room cabin in the Black Forest Mountains of southern Germany. He called it "die Hütte" ("the hut"). Over the years, Heidegger worked on many of his most famous writings in this cabin, from his early lectures to his last enigmatic texts. He claimed an intellectual and emotional intimacy with the building and its surroundings, and even suggested that the landscape expressed itself through him, almost without agency. In Heidegger's Hut, Adam Sharr explores this intense relationship of thought, place, and person.
Heidegger's mountain hut has been an object of fascination for many, including architects interested in his writings about "dwelling" and "place." Sharr's account--the first substantive investigation of the building and Heidegger's life there--reminds us that, in approaching Heidegger's writings, it is important to consider the circumstances in which the philosopher, as he himself said, felt "transported" into the work's "own rhythm." Indeed, Heidegger's apparent abdication of agency and tendency toward romanticism seem especially significant in light of his troubling involvement with the Nazi regime in the early 1930s.
Sharr draws on original research, including interviews with Heidegger's relatives, as well as on written accounts of the hut by Heidegger and his visitors. The book's evocative photographs include scenic and architectural views taken by the author and many remarkable images of a septuagenarian Heidegger in the hut taken by the photojournalist Digne Meller-Markovicz.
There are many ways to interpret Heidegger's hut--as the site of heroic confrontation between philosopher and existence; as the petit bourgeois escape of a misguided romantic; as a place overshadowed by fascism; or as an entirely unremarkable little building. Heidegger's Hut does not argue for any one reading, but guides readers toward their own possible interpretations of the importance of "die Hütte."
Extracts from selected reviews:
"Heidegger's Hut is and is not a book about a hut. It's about how a place inspired a life's work, and how that work inspired modern architectural theory and, to a lesser degree, the sustainability movement. […] Many of the book's photos are posed, though the light is beautiful. The hut has a confidence, a rightness that is oddly indisputable, making in the end, even the philosopher's work seem transient and insubstantial."
The Los Angeles Times
"Offering clear and precise structural and phenomenological descriptions of the hut, Sharr gives us access to the habitus that conditioned not only the essential concepts but equally the inimitable style - as richly suggestive for some as it is emptily obscurantist for others - of Heidegger's thinking. It is a beautifully produced book, its verbal account of the hut fleshing out a compelling visual record of its interior and exterior, as well as its surrounding landscape. Reproductions of the Spiegel photojournaltst Digne Meller-Marcovicz's 1968 document of daily life in the hut casts fascinating light on the relationship between thinking and dwelling in Heidegger's thought. Heidegger's detractors will likely find confirmation in the portentousness of his studied poses; moreover, Sharr's discussion of Heidegger's decision to electrify and install a telephone in the hut provokes the question of whether his talk of "authentic" poetic dwelling was, as Adomo's withering phrase would have it, so much "jargon".
Josh Cohen, TLS
"As Adam Sharr reveals in his remarkable study Heidegger's Hut, the philosopher's timber-shingled cabin (which had no running water and, at least for the first decade, no electricity) can be interpreted as a locus of contemplation, a romantic escape, and a place where, given the politically problematic nature of Heidegger's writings, fascist over-tones cannot but linger"
Andrea Walker, Bookforum
Demolishing Whitehall, Ashgate
This book – co-written with Stephen Thornton (Politics, Cardiff University), to be published in 2013 – is about a lost world, albeit one less than 50 years old. It is the story of a grand plan to demolish most of Whitehall, London's historic government district, and replace it with a ziggurat-section megastructure built in concrete.
In 1965, the architect Leslie Martin submitted a proposal to Charles Pannell, Minister of Public Building and Works in Harold Wilson's Labour government, for the wholesale reconstruction of London's 'Government Centre'. Still reeling from war damage, its eighteenth and nineteenth century palaces stood as the patched-up headquarters of an imperial bureaucracy which had once dominated the globe. Martin's plan – by no means modest in conception, scope or scale – proposed their replacement with a complex that would span the roads into Parliament Square, re-framing the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The project was not executed in the manner envisaged by Martin and his associates, although a surprising number of its proposals were implemented. But the un-built architecture is examined here for its insights into a distinctive moment in British history, when a purposeful technological future seemed not just possible but imminent, apparently sweeping away an anachronistic Edwardian establishment to be replaced with a new meritocracy forged in the 'white heat of technology'.
The Whitehall plan had implications well beyond its specific site. It was imagined by its architects as a scientific investigation into ideal building forms for the future, an important development in their project to unify science and art. For the political actors, it represented a tussle between government departments, between those who believed that Britain needed to discard much of its Victorian and Edwardian decoration in the name of 'professionalisation' and those who sought to preserve its ornate finery. Demolishing Whitehall investigates these tensions between ideas of technology and history, science and art, socialism and elitism. It presents a compelling case study of the relationship between architecture and power.
Quality out of Control: Standards for Measuring Architecture, Routledge
Co-edited with Allison Dutoit and Juliet Odgers
Formerly grounded in values of craftsmanship, in the skilled making of products, 'quality' is now associated with the management of administrative or technical processes. Its appreciation, once based in the exercise of individual judgement and taste, is now often founded on supposedly objective systems of evaluation.
Practitioners of design are under pressure to quantify 'quality', but it is questionable whether it is possible or even desirable to do so. This book considers this important issue, looking at how quality is defined, appreciated, evaluated, managed and produced.
With contributions from eminent architects and architectural critics, this book is for architects, academics, students and anyone interested in what architectural quality is, and how it may be achieved.
The book includes contributions from: Sunand Prasad (Past-President, RIBA); David Leatherbarrow (Penn); Marc Treib (UC Berkeley); Catherine Belsey (Swansea); Adam Caruso (Caruso StJohn Architects).