Christina Vogiatzis' Unreachable wins ASAI Award


The ASAI have announced the winners in their 2022 competition. Recent School of Architecture graduate Christina Vogiatzis (BAS 2020, MArch 2022) has been selected as the winner of the Student Juror Award from Fabio Palvelli. We connected with Christina over email to discuss the award, her recent work and time at the School of Architecture.

Waterloo Architecture: How did you get involved with the ASAI competition? What was your experience participating in the competition and winning the award? 

Christina Vogiatzis: I had been introduced to ASAI’s annual ‘Architecture in Perspective’ competition during my undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo but never had the opportunity to engage in it, except to subscribe to their mailing list. Four years later, I was pursuing my MArch degree and casually received an email from ASAI encouraging me to participate. At this point, I was actually in a position where I had the time and freedom to focus on a submission, so that’s what I did. 

When I ultimately learned that my illustration had been selected for a Juror’s Award, I was of course extremely excited. I am aware of the sheer magnitude of this competition which has been ongoing for 37 years and consistently receives hundreds of submissions from some of the most accomplished contemporary architectural illustrators around the world, so it was quite an honour for me to have my work recognized in such a prestigious forum. It was especially rewarding to be published in ASAI’s annual AIP catalogue, as well as exhibited in the physical exhibition and global architectural conference which were both held this year in London, UK. 

WA. Tell me about the piece you submitted for the award, what led you to choose this piece and how your time at the School of Architecture informed that work. 

Christina Vogiatzis: My submission is an illustration entitled, “Unreachable.” It is actually one of five illustrations in a personal series called “Chroma + Rhythm,” which I created as a kind of visual essay to explore the maximalist nature of the urban environment. Throughout my studies at the University of Waterloo, the themes of city planning, evolution, and morphology were a consistent source of analysis and discussion in many of my academic courses. Beyond mere fact and theory, our pedagogy consisted of actual guided field trips to the most prominent modern cities in North America, including Toronto, Chicago, and New York, as well as an entire term in the eternal city of Rome, Italy, studying its ancient roots.  

Intensely informed by these experiences, and in the midst of a global pandemic which entirely disrupted the daily patterns and inherently social nature of city life, I was inspired to create “Chroma + Rhythm” as a means of graphic reflection, envisioning the concepts of isolation and loss backdropped against so much production and gain. 

In particular, “Unreachable” features a bold composition dominated by an almost brutalist yet whimsically pastel-coloured building. A small child appears alone in the bottom corner of the image, reaching for a grouping of balloons which are evidently lost to her. The symbolism of childhood innocence, the overwhelming aesthetic of geometry and colour, the monstrous scale and proportion of building in comparison to humanity, the juxtaposition of both minimalism and maximalism – all of these tools work together to establish a visual tension within the image and to relay the notion of stifling disconnection in urban life.  

This year, the theme of ASAI’s competition was “Cause & Effect,” focusing on the future impact of cities worldwide in light of shifting population densities, technological advancements, and climate change. Both thematically and graphically, I felt that my illustration, “Unreachable,” was a natural fit. 

Quite simply, my time at the School of Architecture has fundamentally altered the way that I view and interpret the world around me.

WA. Your art practice has had a lot of momentum since your defence. 

Christina Vogiatzis: In addition to my architectural work, I have been practicing professionally as a visual artist since the young age of 16, before even beginning my undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo. During the ten years between then and now, I have participated in multiple art shows, galleries, competitions, and exhibitions both locally and internationally, winning many accolades for my work from prominent establishments including the Academy of Modern Art (AOMA) in Vancouver, the Portrait Society of Canada in Toronto, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan. I work in a combination of mixed-media techniques as well as digital media, and my paintings are both observational and expressionistic, featuring a strong connection to nature, spirit, and the environment. 

Quite simply, my time at the School of Architecture has fundamentally altered the way that I view and interpret the world around me. After seven years of intense undergraduate and graduate studies engaging in intimate design projects, travel, and research, I have thoroughly refined my graphic style, my compositional discernment, and my overall technical ability. All of this has improved and propelled my artwork to a new level of excellence which I actively work to evolve and enhance as I grow and progress as an artist. 

WA. Where do you hope to take your work now that you have completed the MArch program? 

Christina Vogiatzis: Since completing my Master of Architecture degree earlier in 2022, I have engaged in a comfortable balance between architectural design and visual art. I am the founder of my own design practice focused on architectural visualization, concept development, and residential design. I also paint often and continue to be involved in various art events, exhibitions, and galleries in the community. In addition to this, I actively participate in architecture and design competitions worldwide as a means of advancing my ideas, challenging my technical skills, and remaining both fluent and up-to-date with the most outstanding architectural discourses of our day. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have three additional successes this year alone in other important design competitions including second place honours in the ‘2022 FORM Student Innovation Competition’ from Formica Corporation, shortlisted and published in the annual ‘Drawing of the Year Competition’ from Archisource, and first place honours in the ‘Backyard Homes Design Competition’ from the City of Kitchener. 

Overall, I feel very fortunate for the diverse opportunities that my education at Waterloo has afforded me since my graduation, and I am excited to continue to learn and grow into a broad and productive future.