Dr Mike Lawrence

Visiting Professor of Sustainable Materials Engineering

Research Directorate

Mike trained as an accountant, spending a decade in banking, the photographic and pharmaceutical industries, and qualified as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. This was followed by 12 years running a bookshop and library supply business, during which time he obtained an MA (with distinction) in Arts Education at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

In 1995 he acquired and operated a stone quarry and stone masonry business. The Ham Hill Stone Company was the primary source of stone for the conservation and restoration of a wide range of historic and listed buildings dating from the 16th Century through to the 19th Century across the whole of the south of England from Cornwall to London and beyond. This sparked Mike’s interest in conservation and in 2003 he obtained an MSc (with distinction) in the Conservation of Historic Buildings at the University of Bath. This was swiftly followed by a PhD in the same field, also at the University of Bath.

In 2007, Mike sold the quarry and took a position as a Research Officer at the University of Bath, working on straw bale construction, development of mortars for unfired clay bricks and hemp-lime construction. In 2012 Mike became a lecturer in Low Carbon Design at the University of Bath, and in 2013 established, and became the inaugural Director of, the University of Bath’s Building Research Park. In 2013 Mike was registered as a Chartered Environmentalist and in 2014 became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

In his time at the University of Bath, Mike was principal Investigator for the HIVE ( a research building at the Building Research Park), HEMPSEC (an EU grant to develop Hemp-Lime construction), ISOBIO (an EU grant to develop a panelised hemp-lime construction system), and co-investigator for ECOSEE (an EU grant to create materials for healthier indoor environments) and COBBAUGE (an INTERREG grant to develop cob construction). Mike has published over 100 articles at conferences, in books and in peer reviewed journals.

Mike retired from the University of Bath in 2019, and took up the role of Director of Research for Natural Building Systems Ltd and its sister company Material Research Ltd. Since joining these companies Mike has developed and patented two novel low carbon construction materials (HempSec®, and MilaFoam®) and is currently working on further novel materials.

Mike has built links with researchers in different departments and in different UK, EU and North American universities and research institutes. In the interests of applying this research in practice, in order to improve the built environment and contribute to global decarbonisation, he has developed relationships with a wide range of industrialists and practitioners across four continents. Mike retains an immense enthusiasm for his research and for its application in the real world. Having been a visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bath for the last six years, he has moved his allegiance to the University of Suffolk in order to strengthen established links, such as the research building at Adastral Park.