Westminster Architecture Society: who, what, and why

14457519_1227409613964956_6018879685013446369_nWestminster Architecture Society is the student society for the Department of Architecture at the University of Westminster. This year, Nouha stepped down and I took over as the president. Hopefully I’ll be able to uphold her wonderful legacy and, together with the new committee, make this year a great year.

We’ve just had a request from the Association of Architectural Educators to provide some information about WAS. Hannah Vowels, the AAE director, asked many pertinent questions so I thought I’d share my answers here as well, just in case others might also be interested in learning more about what we do.
Q:Who runs it?

Each year we put together a group of students that coordinate the activities that the society runs and throughout the year we encourage all students to get involved as much as they can or wish. This year, I will be the president (Crista Popescu), but the entire committee is active and essential to the success of our endeavors: Zahra Mansoor, Elham Ansaripour, and Duncan Catterall.

Q:Who can belong to it?

We welcome all students and alumni from the Department of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Westminster. We also have other students from other departments and other universities that attend our events if they are of interest and we are glad they do.

Q:What does it do?

Our activities aim to complement the departmental teaching. We organise lectures, networking events, social events, exhibitions, workshops, and symposiums. We also promote to our students any opportunities for funding, competitions, scholarships, jobs, and events that we receive or we come across and we consider of interest to our members.

Q:Is there a membership fee?

We don’t have a membership fee but we occasionally have an entrance fee for our events if we need to supplement our funding. If we do have a fee, we strive to only have it for social events like parties and balls, and keep the lectures/workshops/educational events free.

Q:How is continuity achieved?

The committee includes people from both BA and MArch/MA/MSci levels, from different years of studies, so there is normally at least one member that continues to be involved from one year to another and passes on accumulated knowledge to incoming members. Towards the end of the academic year we advertise and try and recruit new committee members for the following year so they in turn can ensure continuity later on.

Q:Is it affiliated with the Student’s Union and if so, is there any benefit or disadvantage in this?

Westminster Architecture Society is affiliated with the University of Westminster Student Union. We therefore can submit funding bids to the union and book venues in our other campuses through them. They’re a very active union that strives to engage all students, so it’s a pleasure to collaborate with them.

 Q:Is it affiliated or connected with ASN and if so, is there any benefit of disadvantage in this?

Each year WAS is invited and normally participates in ASN events. It’s a good place to meet other architecture students and society representatives. We now keep in touch with other architecture student societies and try and organise events together and promote each other’s events to members.

Q:Is there anything else special or particular (positive or negative) about your student society, the way it is organised or funded that you think it would be useful to share?

Westminster Architecture Society is a welcoming environment for all students. Because we don’t have a formal joining process, all students on the architecture courses consider themselves members of the society and feel that WAS is an integral part of the course and an extension of studio life. In the same way, we keep a relaxed atmosphere within the committee: all those involved , either for a day or years, having an equally important role and voice. It’s these things that make the society adapt very easily to the aspirations and wishes of its members and we hope that it’s also how WAS will remain relevant to all students.

With the same openness we welcome collaborations with other architecture societies from other architecture schools and we also hope to organise more events in collaboration with architecture practices. It’s thrilling to be part of such a lively and interesting community so we do our best to create opportunities to share knowledge and create contacts in the UK and internationally.

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