Robert Hairstans
Robert Hairstans

Prof Robert Hairstans



Professor Robert Hairstans is head of the Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures (COCIS) within Edinburgh Napier University's Institute for Sustainable Construction, where he leads on research, innovation and knowledge exchange activities designed to deliver construction technologies for tomorrow's communities within a circular economy. His specialist expertise is in the fields of timber engineering and technology with a focus on adding value to the timber supply chain with an emphasis on engineered timber products and offsite (modular) construction.

A major contributor to the 2015 Queens Anniversary Prize for Innovation in Timber Construction and Wood Science Dr Hairstans has published extensively (over 40 peer reviewed published works in journals, books and conference proceedings) including the authorship of three books, one of which has been endorsed by the Royal Institute for British Architects for professional development (the 1st and only publication to receive this commendation). He is recognised as an expert in the field serving on national and international committees as well acting as a reviewer for international journals and grant awarding bodies including EPSRC.

The outputs generated and recognition received is as a result of having a Principle Investigator (PI) track record of over £1M of research (£880k) and commercial projects (£250k) in addition to the provision of Co-Investigator support to a further £0.6M since being employed by Edinburgh Napier University as a lecturer in 2005. Prior to his lecturing role Dr Hairstans was a national award winning Knowledge Transfer Partnership associate employed by ENU working at Oregon Timber Frame in the Scottish Borders.

Professor Hairstans is a Entrepreneurial Scotland Saltire Fellow having been selected by the Scottish Government in 2014 to transform the delivery of Sustainable Housing in Scotland and he is also a Co-Chair of the International Modular and Offsite Construction Summit in collaboration with the University of Alberta (Canada).

Professor Hairstans is also academic lead of Offsite Solutions Scotland a company formed by 10 industry partners in 2016 with a combined manufacturing output of £170million employing more than 1,000. OSS was founded following a successful UKCES project Offsite HUB(Scotland) funded by UKCES and led by Dr Robert Hairstans, culminating in a Cooperative Development Scotland Collaboration Prize.

In addition to international conferences Dr Hairstans has delivered Continual Professional Development on behalf of the professional institutions and chaired sessions at high profile industry and academic events as well as being invited to international universities ranked globally in the top 10.

Most recently Professor Hairstans has established the Built Environment Exchange ( in collaboration with international university partners in USA, Canada and Europe. BeX is a platform approach to accelerating change in construction culture developing dynamic talent and delivering experiential learning opportunities. Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) have engaged with beX via a collaborative learning week “Sustainable Communities Pre-manufactured from Wood”. BeX was awarded Outstanding Employer Engagement in Universities at the Herald Higher Education Awards 2018.



Advisory panels and expert committees or witness

  • Timber in Construction Policy Roadmap Working Group - Terms of Reference
  • Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) Innovation Champion
  • Forest and Engineering Group
  • Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) Advanced Construction Technical Advisory Group (TAG) member
  • Forest and Timber Technologies Industry Leadership Group
  • Build Offsite academic member and representation for Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) Offsite HUB
  • Scottish Government Research into Mainstreaming Offsite Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in House Building


Fellowships and Awards

  • Built Environment Smarter Transformation - Green Skills Award
  • Built Environment - Smarter Transformation Beacon Award
  • CEED Best Practice Sharing Award
  • Built Environment Exchange (beX) - Outstanding Employer Engagement in Universities
  • Department of Trade & Industry (now Business Innovation and Skills) UK National Award for Excellence in Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)
  • Queens Anniversary Prize, Innovation in Timber Construction and Wood Science. COCIS was a major contributor to the award given work in timber offsite and MMC including CLT commercialisation work, timber engineering software development to European Codes o
  • Saltire Fellowship


Visiting Positions

  • Director of the Centre for Advanced Timber Technology
  • Harvard GDS Visiting Academic


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