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Professor Robert Lawson

Professor of Construction Systems
+44 (0)1483 686617
02 AA 03
Tuesday and Thursday 9.30 to 18.30 throughout the year



  • First Class Honours in Civil Engineering at Imperial College, 1973
  • PhD in Structural Engineering, University of Salford, 1977
  • Ove Arup and partners, 1977-1980
  • Construction Industry Research and Information Association, 1980-88
  • The Steel Construction Institute, 1988 – 2004
  • University of Surrey (2004-)
  • The Steel Construction Institute (part-time) 2009-.

Research interests

My research covers 30 years in the steel construction industry, and before in practice as a civil and structural engineer. In recent years, I have concentrated on the development of light steel technologies in low-rise buildings and housing, and of modular construction.

A major interest is in the area of composite construction, in which I have been involved since the early 1980s. The technology of composite construction has extended to long span beams with facility for service integration, such as cellular beams and fabricated beams.  Current research on the use of steel concentrates on:

  • Pre-fabricated construction technologies such as modular construction
  • Composite construction
  • Light steel construction
  • Evaluation of the sustainability benefits of construction technologies
  • Energy efficient design
  • I am joint author of a book on ‘Architectural Design in Steel’ for Taylor and Francis (Spon), and I am currently preparing a book on ‘Design in Modular Construction’ for the same publisher.

Current research programmes

  • Energy monitoring of low energy houses in Woking
  • Engineering Doctorate on integrated renewable energy technologies.
  • European 7th Framework: Zero Energy Design of Steel Buildings
  • Stainless steel research: Web openings in C sections

The research that I am undertaking currently is directly concerned with the use of steel construction systems in residential and commercial building and with energy assessments of buildings.  The work involves collaboration with SCI and Tata Steel , and with other Universities

Research collaborations

  • The Steel Construction Institute (SCI) on a wide range of projects
  • Imperial College on composite construction and lightweight structures
  • RWTH Aachen on energy modelling
  • Thameswey, Woking, on monitoring of low energy housing
  • Tata Steel (UK)
  • Ruukki Construction (Finland)
  • VTT (Finland)


  • MSc in Bridge and Structural Engineering
  • Steel and composite bridges module
  • Steel buildings module
  • MSc in Renewable Energy
  • Wind energy module
  • Sustainability of buildings



  • Member of the Institutions of Civil and Structural Engineers.
  • Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Chairman of the Light Steel Forum (SCI)

My publications


Lawson R M, Ogden R G and Bergin R, Application of Modular Construction in High-rise Buildings, American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Architectural Engineering Vol 18 Issue 2 p148 -154, June 2012

Lawson R M and Hicks S , Design of Composite Beams with Large Web Openings, The Steel Construction Institute Publication P355, 2011

Lawson R M and Saverirajan A H, Simplified Elasto-plastic Analysis of Composite Beams and Cellular Beams to Eurocode 4, Journal of Constructional Steel Research Vol 87 No 10 October 2011 p 1426-1434

Lawson R M  and Richards J, Modular Design for High-Rise Buildings Proc. Inst. Civil Engineers Structures and Buildings 163 Issue SB3 June 2010 This paper won the Frederick Palmer prize in 2011 for the best paper on structures or buildings in a journal by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Lawson R M , Popa-Ola S O, Way A,  Heatley T and Pedreschi R Durability of Light Steel Framing in Residential Applications Proc. Inst. Civil Engineers Construction Materials 163 Issue CM2 May 2010 This paper won the Howard Medal in 2011 for the best paper on metals- based research in a journal by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Lawson R M , Byfield M P, Grubb P J and Popa-Ola S O, Robustness of Light Steel and Modular Construction, Buildings and Structures, Proceedings of Inst. Civil Engineers, 161 Issue SB1 February 2008, p 3-16:

Lawson R M and Ogden R G , Hybrid Light Steel Panel and Modular Construction Thin Walled Structures Vol 46, Nos 7-9,  2008, p 720-730 Lawson R M, Ogden R G, Pedreschi R and Popo-Ola S O, Developments in Cold Formed Steel Sections in Composite Applications for Residential Buildings, Advances in Structural Engineering Vol 11 No 6, 2008

Lawson R M, Sustainability of steel in housing and residential buildings, The Steel Construction Institute Publication 370, 2007

Lawson R M, Building Design using Modules, The Steel Construction Institute Publication , 2007

Lawson R M, Ogden RG , Pedreschi R  and Grubb P J, Developments in light steel composites in floors and roofs, The Structural Engineer 7 November 2006 p 44-50 Lawson R M , Lim J , Hicks S J and Simms W I , Design of composite asymmetric cellular beams and beams with large web openings, Jnl. of Steel Construction Research Vol 62 No 6 June 2006 p 614-629 Trebilcock P J and Lawson RM Architectural Design in Steel,  Spon Press, 2004 (225 page book)