Can you remember what first made you want to become an architect?
I’ve loved art and making things since I was a child, so that certainly played a role in leading me to a career as an architect.
Originally I was heading down the product design route, but ended up switching to architecture. Ultimately I felt that working as an architect might mean I could make more of a tangible difference to people’s lives.
I trained at Kingston University – the same as Justin, incidentally. There was even a bit of a cross over, but he was a few years ahead of me in his training at that point!
Where was your first architectural job, and what do you remember most about it?
I worked at Clements and Porter, a small practice in Shoreditch, London.
There was inevitably a huge learning curve, going from the theory of university to the reality of project work. But it was a really fantastic time to be working in east London; there was a lot of interesting development happening and I remember feeling inspired, and right in the thick of things.
The first design project I led on was for a two-storey house extension in Hackney. A beautiful frameless glass box on the back of the house. It’s something I’m still pretty proud of.
What is your favourite sort of project to get your hands into?
It seems to me that the role of an architect holds a lot of responsibility: our work doesn’t just impact the people we’re designing for, but all those who will engage with it in the future.
So, for me, the best projects are where the client is as equally committed to design quality as we are. When we’re on the same page in our desire to achieve something really special, it’s exciting, because we can deliver something that won’t just benefit the client themselves, but also the wider community.
What Mohsin Cooper project are you most proud of?
It’s hard to choose one project; I really love the variety in my work.
Perhaps it’s our scheme at Withdean, Brighton because it’s one where we’ve achieved a lot with the design. It’s a steeply sloping site, and that was just one of a number of technical challenges. The scheme delivers two high quality contemporary houses and, working with the topography, the buildings are knitted into the site. We’ve also been able to make the most of important views and existing landscape features.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
One of my first bosses, about 10 or 15 years ago, told me to “panic early”!
That might sound a bit negative but actually it’s been immeasurably helpful over my career so far.
It’s about being conscientious, looking out for challenges early on, and actually looking for the opportunities that they present.
Anyone working in our industry will know that unexpected issues inevitably crop up. So, it’s always better to anticipate the problem and tackle it in a proactive way rather than trying to ignore it!
What’s next for Mohsin Cooper?
We’ve recently taken on some new members of staff and it’s been great to see the team getting on and working well together.
It feels like we’re a well balanced team now with the skills to tackle technical and design challenges and it’s a pleasure to work with them.
I’m looking forward to seeing what’s around the corner – now that we’ve expanded we’ve got the capacity to take on more work, which is always exciting.
And what about you, have you got any cycling challenges on the horizon?
I’ll be visiting family in California and Wales in the coming months – two brilliant cycling destinations with plenty of adventures to be had. Can’t wait!