Emeritus Professor Bryan Lawson

DipArch (dist), MSc (dist), PhD, RIBA

School of Architecture

Emeritus Professor

Registered Architect


I have practiced as an architect in both the private and public sectors and now consult with a number of international architectural practices. I studied both architecture and psychology and have specialised in the nature of the design process and in the impact of the designed environment on our quality of life. I have particular interests in healthcare and educational environments as well as the urban public domain.

I joined Sheffield University in 1974 having previously taught at Aston University, the Birmingham School of Architecture and Central St. Martins College of Art and Design. I was, for many years Head of School here at Sheffield and then Dean of the Faculty of Architectural Studies, which has since disappeared.

I have been Visiting Professor in Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Multi-Media Universiti and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. I have taught and examined at universities in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia.

At Sheffield I taught many architectural theory lecture courses and design studios and supervised over 50 research students to their higher degrees.

Research group

In terms of professional impact, my research group produced GABLE one of the pioneering computer-aided design systems for architecture in the 1980s, which was widely sold and used internationally.

More recently we have generated design tools such as AEDET and ASPECT now used for healthcare environment design. These systems were originally commissioned by the UK NHS but have since been widely used internationally.


I've had many research grants from research councils including EPSRC and AHRB, government departments such as DTI, Department of Health, as well as European Councils, professional bodies including RIBA and ARCUK and a series of projects for the Irish Government.

Professional activities and memberships

I have acted as a consultant to many universities both in the UK and overseas, UK NHS Trusts, Developers such as Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Mowlem and architectural practices such as BDP, FaulknerBrowns and ABK in the UK and Moore Ruble and Yudell, RTKL, and Chong Partners in the USA.

Among the work I have done with Moore Ruble and Yudell was a winning entry for the international competition for Grangegorman in Dublin for which we were eventually recognised by the 2010 American Architecture Award.

Academically I have published around 200 books, papers and reports. I am probably best known for my major books including How Designers Think, What Designers Know, Design in Mind, The Language of Space and, most recently Design Expertise with Kees Dorst (Professor of Design at Sydney University of Technology).

Most of my books have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia.

I have been a nationally elected member of the RIBA Council and served on many of its committees, chairing the Research Committee for many years. I have served on the EPSRC Peer Review College and twice on the HEFC Research Assessment Exercise. I serve on the editorial boards of a dozen academic journals.