Dennis Charles Sharp (1933-2010) was an architect, designer, critic, historian, author and teacher.
Sharp was born in Bedford on the 30th November 1933 and studied at Bedford Modern School (1945-1951) and at Luton School of Art (1951-1954). His father, Henry Sharp, arranged for him to be an articled pupil to the architect, Albert Richardson (later Sir Albert Richardson, 1880-1964). On deciding to pursue a career in architecture, Sharp trained at the Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture in London from 1954-1957 where he was 3rd Year Travel Scholar in 1955 and Ralph Knott (RIBA) Research Scholar from 1956-1957. He then went on to be Leverhulme Research Fellow at the School of Architecture at the University of Liverpool from 1960-1963.
Sharp's first official post came in 1963 when he was appointed as the senior research architect at the Civic Trust for the North West in Manchester. He also lectured at the School of Architecture at the University of Manchester from 1964-1968, before returning to the Architectural Association (AA) in 1968 to become Head of History studies, taking over from Sir John Summerson, and later working as a senior lecturer. Teaching was an important part of Sharp's life and he was a guest lecturer at a number of institutions in the UK and abroad.
Sharp began working in practice when he set up a multi-disciplinary practice as part of Atelier St. Albans from 1969-1975. Dennis Sharp Architects (DSA) was founded in 1970, based in London and Hertford, and has worked on a number of high profile projects including the award-winning Strawdance Studio, as well as the renovation of major listed buildings such as Royal Ascot Racecourse and Foster's Renault Centre in Swindon. Many of Sharp's projects involved the renovation of historic, especially 20th century, buildings and he was regarded as an expert in this area.
In addition to designing and teaching, Sharp wrote and edited a number of publications including 'Modern Architecture and Expressionism' (London, 1966), 'The Picture Palace and Other Buildings for the Movies' (London, 1969), 'The Bauhaus' (London, 1970), and 'Sources of Modern Architecture: A Critical Bibliography' (London, 1981). He also worked on the translating and editing of Hermann Muthesius' three volume set of books entitled 'The English House' (London, 2007) originally published in Berlin in 1904-1905.
Sharp had a life-long interest in the work of the Modern architects, Amyas Connell, Basil Ward and Colin Lucas, who formed the partnership Connell, Ward and Lucas (CWL) in 1934. This fascination, initially sparked by a special issue of the Architectural Association (AA) Journal on the partnership in 1956 along with the teachings of Arthur Korn, who was Sharp's tutor, led him to produce an exhibition at the Building Centre in London in September 1994 (along with a catalogue) and later the publication Connell, Ward and Lucas: Modern movement architects in England 1929-1939 (London, 2008). This book, which was written in collaboration with Sally Rendel (née Godwin), a fellow architect, writer and editor, forms the first monograph on Connell, Ward and Lucas. In connection with this firm, Sharp campaigned with English Heritage to prevent Greenside, a house built by Connell, Ward and Lucas in Surrey in 1936-1937, being demolished. Eventually the building was destroyed unlawfully by the owner, leading to a large fine.
Sharp also worked as editor for many publications including editor of Architecture North West and the General Editor of AA and founder Editor of AA Quarterly (1966-1982).
Sharp held a number of official posts in other architectural institutions and bodies including Chairman of the International Committee of Architectural Critics (CICA); Vice President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) from 1991-1993; Chairman of the RIBA Architecture Centre between 1992-1996, which he had co-founded in 1992; and Vice President of the Architectural Association (AA) from 2007. He also co-chaired the British branch of the Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement (Docomomo), was a member of the Society of Authors, and in 2004 was admitted to the Freedom of the City of London of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects.
In 1984 Sharp participated in the international architecture symposium "Mensch und Raum" (Man and Space), which received wide attention, at the Vienna University of Technology.
In his personal life, Sharp met Joanna Scales, a drama student, whilst he was a postgraduate student at Liverpool University. They were married in 1964 and their daughter, Melanie, was born two years later. Following their divorce, Sharp married architect, Yasmin Shariff, a partner at DSA. Their son, Deen, was born in 1993.
Sharp died on the 6th May 2010, aged 76.