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Personal profile

Research interests

Mike Lawrence is a Lecturer in low-carbon design within the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. He specialises in Natural Building Materials and in the optimisation of the fabric of buildings to minimise in-use energy consumption.

Mike is also Director of the Building Research Park at Wroughton, where the EPSRC-funded experimental building the HIVE is located (EPSRC Grant Ref: EP/K040391/1).  Mike is actively searching for research projects which will make use of the HIVE and the other resources at the Research Park.  Mike is Principal Investigator for the EU funded HEMPSEC and ISOBIO projects.  He is also working with Bath Abbey on their Footprint Project to ensure that the proposed work has no impact on the historic fabric of the Abbey.

Mike trained as an accountant and worked in banking, as well as the photographic and pharmaceutical industries. This was followed by 13 years running a bookselling business during which time he obtained an MA with distinction in Arts Education at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

In 1995, he took over the management of the Ham Hill Stone Company. This quarry had been in his family since the 15th century and the stone has been used in the south-west of England since Roman times for the construction of a wide range of buildings, including many Grade 1 and 2* listed buildings. 

In 2003, he obtained an MSc with distinction in the Conservation of Historic Buildings, and followed this with the award of a PhD on lime mortars in 2006.

Mike worked as a research officer at the BRE Centre for Sustainable Construction at the University of Bath until 2012. Completed projects include Technology Strategy Board funded work on pre-fabricated straw bale panels for use in main-stream construction, where he developed a non-invasive method of continuously monitoring the condition of rendered straw-bale panels.

A second project involved the successful development of non cementitious mortars for use with unfired clay bricks. This facilitated the use of low-carbon footprint unfired clay bricks as internal walls in mainstream construction. Mike's final project as a research officer was funded by DEFRA and the objective was to develop hemp-lime low carbon construction for mainstream uptake. The project completed in March 2012.

Mike started as a full-time Lecturer in Low Carbon Design in April 2012.  He supervises PhD students in the fields of hemp-lime construction, air lime mortars, and the effectiveness of passively acquired and maintained building environmental performance on the preservation of large-scale historic collections to current conservation and collections care standards.

Mike’s work at the Building Research Park includes the development of the HIVE and the hosting of research projects including the EU funded ISOBIO, ECO-SEE and HEMPSEC projects. He is a Trustee and Director of Earth Building UK Ltd, a charity dedicated to promoting the use of earth in construction in the UK.


Mike’s research interests are in natural building materials and in the field of low carbon design with a particular emphasis on the contribution that the fabric of a building can make to the passive management of the internal environment. He is building up a team of researchers in this field, and would welcome applications from enthusiastic students to join his group. Email Mike Lawrence to find out more.

Current projects

Willing to supervise PhD

Interested in supervising students studying:

  • Natural Building Materials
  • Lime based materials
  • Hygrothermal performance of materials
  • Fabric First approach to building design 

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Bath

Master of Science, University of Bath

Master of Arts, Central School of Speech and Drama

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Projects 2008 2019


Lawrence, R., Ansell, M., Holley, J., Shea, A. & Walker, P.


Project: EU Commission

Insulating materials
Thermal insulation
Composite materials

Industrial Nature: Hemp-Lime block optimisation

Lawrence, R.


Project: UK industryOther

Bath Abbey

Lawrence, R.


Project: UK charity

Research Output 2006 2019

2 Citations
Mineral wool
Boundary conditions
3 Citations
Open Access
Density (specific gravity)
Pore size

Comparative micro-structure and sorption isotherms of rice straw and wheat straw

Yin, X., Lawrence, R., Maskell, D. & Ansell, M., 15 Aug 2018, In : Energy and Buildings. 173, p. 11-18 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Comparative moisture and heat sorption properties of fibre and shiv derived from hemp and flax

Jiang, Y., Lawrence, R., Hussain, A., Ansell, M. & Walker, P., 25 Nov 2018, In : Cellulose. p. 1-21

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Construction and monitoring of experimental straw bale building in northeast China

Yin, X., Lawrence, M., Maskell, D. & Chang, W. S., 20 Sep 2018, In : Construction and Building Materials. 183, p. 46-57 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Environmental impact


A study of carbonation in non-hydraulic lime mortars

Author: Lawrence, M., 1 Jan 2006

Supervisor: Walker, P. (Supervisor) & D'Ayala, D. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Modelling of a Particle Orientation in Bio-Based Aggregate Concretes

Author: Williams, J., 8 Nov 2017

Supervisor: Lawrence, R. (Supervisor) & Walker, P. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Properties and performance of lime mortars for conservation: the role of binder chemistry and curing regime

Author: Figueiredo, C., 1 Jul 2018

Supervisor: Lawrence, R. (Supervisor) & Ball, R. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD