Dr Ranald Lawrence

Lecturer in Environmental Design

MA, MPhil, PhD (Cantab)


My background in architectural practice informs my teaching and research, focusing on environmental performance, energy consumption and user behaviour in the context of global climate change. I have worked for several award-winning architectural practices, and taught and published on adaptive comfort theory and the implications of the use of technology in buildings.

Prior to joining the University of Sheffield, I lectured in the Department of Architecture at Cambridge while completing my PhD on environmental design strategies in late nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings.

Teaching Activities

Module Leader for Year 3 Environment and Technology
Undergraduate Architecture Programme Studio Tutor

As a Lecturer in Environmental Design I aspire to bridge the gap between theoretical research and its application to the practice of building. In studio teaching, my personal goal has always been to act as a bridge between what the students have heard in their lectures and the practical work they execute in studio.

I believe architectural education has an influential role to play in implementing the changes it will be necessary to effect in our environment in order to make the transition from a globally destructive carbon economy to a clean, hi-tech, low energy future. The development of new research methodologies, as well as architectural strategies, can aid the promotion of the process of 'design' as a solution to wider environmental and social problems.

Research Interests

Together with colleagues in the People, Environments and Performance group I investigate how architects contribute to sustainable climate change adaptation in different contexts. My research explores architectural strategies that offer alternatives to hi-tech mechanical heating, cooling and ventilation systems that are costly to run and difficult to service or replace.

I am interested in the development of new research methodologies that address the social and cultural dimensions of environmentally responsive architecture, but I also believe it is important that architects and other professionals can learn from key buildings and ideas of the past that reflected on or accommodated for transition and change in society.

I currently supervise PhD students exploring the impact of climate change on building performance in Malaysia, Mexico and Jordan. I am a partner on the Transcultural Understanding of Designing with Climate Change (TUDCC) project, and was a member of the organising committee of Architecture and Resilience, an international conference held at Sheffield in 2015.

I have convened and contributed to various conferences and events, including: Green Building Week; the Association of Energy Conscious Builders Annual Conference; the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities; and the Department of Architecture at Cambridge.

I also have a particular interest in the history of environmental design and its influence on the development of modern architecture. My PhD explored the intersection of social, political and environmental concerns in the industrial city towards the end of the nineteenth century, through the evolution of the art school building type.

Postgraduate Research Supervision Interests

Environmental design, climate change, building performance, occupant behaviour, adaptive comfort theory, climate change, history of environment, urban history

Professional Standing and Distinctions

Selected Lectures

‘Post Occupancy Evaluation: the measurable and the unmeasurable’, AECB (Association for Environment Conscious Building) Annual Conference, University of Sheffield, 2015

‘Preserving Historic Environments: The Glasgow School of Art as a case study’, CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities), University of Cambridge, 2014.

‘Design for a Changing Climate’, part of World Green Building Week, Bennetts Associates, London, 2013.

‘Projecting Architecture on the Big Screen’, part of Architectural Projections, University of Cambridge in association with the Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge, 2013.

‘Cultural Climates: The Environment of the Victorian Art School’, The Friends of All Saints Annual Autumn Lecture, Cambridge, 2012.

1. Environmental appraisal of the Glasgow School of Art Environmental design strategies in studio
Vernacular precedents for bioregional design Masterplanning employing passive design principles


A list of key publications can be found below. For a full list of recent publications please click here.

Journal articles


  • Lawrence R & Fellingham K (2018) Tackling Climate Change: Comparing studio approaches in Sheffield and Cape Town In Lawrence R, Trogal K, Petrescu D & Bauman I (Ed.), Architecture and Resilience View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Trogal K, Bauman I, Lawrence R & Petrescu D (2018) Introduction, Architecture and Resilience (pp. 1-14). Routledge RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers

  • Lawrence R & Elsayed M (2017) Post Occupancy Evaluation of University Buildings in the UK (Case Study: The Diamond, Sheffield). Proceedings of the International Conference for Sustainable Design in the Built Environment SDBE 2017 (pp 366-377), 20 December 2017 - 21 December 2017. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Lawrence R & Hawkes D (2017) Theory and Precedent in the Design of Sustainable Environments: A Case Study of Two Schools of Art – Manchester and Glasgow. Design to Thrive: Proceedings PLEA 2017 (pp 240-247). Edinburgh, 2 July 2017 - 5 July 2019. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Lawrence R & Fellingham K (2015) Tackling Climate Change: Comparing studio approaches in Sheffield and Cape Town. Architecture and Resilience on the Human Scale (pp 509-516). Sheffield, 10 September 2015 - 12 October 2015. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Lawrence R (2015) Design for Flexibility in Low Carbon Offices. The 7th International Conference on Sustainable Development in Building and Engineering. University of Reading, 27 July 2015 - 29 July 2015. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Lawrence R (2011) Assessing the Heritage Value of Environmental Experience. Intervention Approaches for 20th Century Architectural Heritage Proceedings. Madrid, 14 June 2011 - 16 June 2011. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Lawrence R & Penha A () Assessing the Energy Performance and Occupant Satisfaction of Foyer Spaces. Delivering Resilient High Performance Buildings View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download

Edited books

  • Lawrence R, Trogal K, Petrescu D & Bauman I (Eds.) (2018) Architecture and Resilience. Abingdon: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download