Meet the Mentor: Sam Causer
Sam is an architect based in Margate. His studio is particularly interested in the philosophical and community-led aspects of architecture. He works with the Sixteen as a mentor and advisor.
What made you want to go into your career path?
Architecture - the buildings, rooms and outdoor spaces we live our lives amongst – is a near-perfect mirror to human activity and innermost thoughts, dreams and aspirations. But this mirror is formed in bricks, glass, wood, steel, concrete and plastic; some of it was built a long time ago, and much of it needs re-building.
How people today occupy, change and are informed by the physical dreams of yesterday has always fascinated me, right from my adolescent Saturday job delivering milk around my village, collecting the money from 400 different kitchens, the intimate cocoons of 400 different families. While delivering this milk, I remember thinking that I enjoyed art, science, and watching people’s behaviour, and came to realise that the practice of architecture requires a beautiful union of these three.
Did you always think you’d go into this career? How does it compare to how you thought it would be?
At school, I was also into the idea of becoming a barrister, arguing peoples’ cases in a court of law, or a politician, where you argue in public for what you believe to be best for society as a whole. So for me it was a toss up between law, politics and architecture. As it turns out, architecture comfortably embraces both law and politics, laying out its arguments for different forms and ways of living in a very public realm.
How was life at school?
After a fickle start, I worked hard at school in the last couple of years, from about half way through my GCSEs, and managed to get to a really good university to study architecture. Being gay was tough back then, very isolating, and difficult to accept that I wasn’t what I and others around me considered to be ‘normal’. So I channelled that dissatisfaction with my personal life into hard work, which I am glad to say paid off, and I’m now pretty happy with work and home life.
How did you get into your career?
I studied Maths, Art and Physics at A’level, worked hard and got a place to study architecture at Cambridge University.
I was terrified at first, surrounded by people much more rich and clever than me, but soon realised everyone feels that way and felt at home in no time. The undergraduate course is 3 years long, then I had to find a job in an architecture practice for one or two years, then return to university for another two years on a Postgraduate MA or Diploma in Architecture.
It’s still not over, I then had to get another apprenticeship for a further one or two years, and finally take the legal and professional exams in order to use the title ‘Architect’ which is a protected title, like a doctor, which comes with rules and responsibilities. So it takes a long time (at least 7 years), but you can earn money as you go and build experience and professional and social networks that you can rely on through your life as an architect.
What do you enjoy most about being an Architect?
I like working with people to create something progressive, that makes life better.
What are your ambitions?
To get better, to have more fun, and to share this with others.
Tell us a fun story
Let’s write it together.