InterVIEW – Christina Zigouras

Christina is the director of XtheT a Melbourne based building design studio. XtheT creates commercial building designs that ensure compliance with permits with the end user in mind. The portfolio is ever expanding including community centres, affordable housing models, retail fit outs, educational buildings office spaces as well as public assembly halls. As the name XtheT suggests “Crossing the Ts”, Christina Zigouras is all about the detail. She is a professional, customer oriented Building Designer who creates Energy Efficient designs for work, rest and play. Vibrant, functional and enjoyable spaces.
Christina Zigouras
Christina Zigouras

1. What is/are your favourite project/s that you have worked on, and why?

My favourite projects incorporate design by consensus.  I think as individual designers we attract a certain kind of client.  Like attract like.

For me for a few years there, I was working with Churches of Christ, so every project had a building committee.  I got a lot of satisfaction from making sure everyone involved, felt part of the process.  Finding ways to better utilise the churches meant incorporating a variety of business models depending on the congregation and community’s needs; childcare, retail, community services, affordable housing.

If I am not designing by consensus, then I work with entrepreneurial dreamers who share their ideas and look to me to bring them to fruition.  In these projects,  I am a facilitator, a red tape coach, jumping hurdles and navigating courses to get their businesses up and running and their plans to fruition.

Both of these client types have faith, hope and community in common.   Faith that their hard work will pay off.  Hope that their dreams will come true and that their efforts will make their community a better place.

2. To date, my biggest business/design challenge has been?

I’m sure many members would agree that design is the best part of our job. A design challenge is an opportunity. However, design is such a minor part of the job.

The business challenges of ‘building design’ however are numerous. Sometimes I feel like a ‘GP’ where we are expected to be across everything, while the specialist consultants take the cream. With this in mind I went back to study this year, enrolling in Graduate Cert. of Fire Engineering at Victoria University; so that I will be able to provide my clients and others with fire solutions as part of the NCC 2019. (Please keep in mind…)

The other bane of my existence is social media.  I know I have to, but…..really??

3. My favourite finish is?

Natural finishes.  I love bricks.  Honest, low maintenance, great texture and a good fire rating.

4. The architectural style of the home I grew up in?

Mum and dad commissioned an architect to design their family dream home in 1977.

It was down in Mt Eliza, with sea views, well orientated, skillion roof, one and a half stories, internal balustrading, exposed brick, angled windows, courtyards, hand glazed ceramic tiles, timber cedar lining, hydronic slab heating, ….the whole shebang.  (But no shagpile).

5. I joined the BDAV because?

As a mature age student I wanted to network, learn and hopefully get work!

6. My favourite Australian building is?

My favorite Australian architect is Robin Boyd, and of his work, the Richardson Bridge house inspires me the most.  The design also brings to mind Glen Murcutt’s famous phrase, ‘to touch the earth lightly’.  How Mr Boyd would have appreciated the materials of today. Truly a man ahead of his time.

7. My favourite international building is?

I have travelled extensively and seen many churches, temples and mosques of all denominations.  Sagrada Familia, however, is THE most inspiring, beautifully rich, poetic and awe-inspiring building I have ever experienced.  Its structure celebrates science and nature; and once entered, even those non-believers among us, may wonder about a divine intervention.  The fractured light that plays through the strategically placed windows makes for a calming celebration of life and the universe.

8. My words of wisdom for a student building designer are?

You can’t hide bad design with a pretty picture.

9. When I was a child I wanted to be?

A fashion designer, a builder, prime minister.

10. Outside of work, I am passionate about?

Politics.  I have run as a State Candidate in the lower house (2014) and upper house (2018).   Currently I am pretty disillusioned however.

At a 100 year celebration of the Victorian Women’s Trust, a founder of Women at Work said to me (after a political disappointment in 2016) “Get onto boards.   Policy is always lagging behind real change”.   As I write this, that could not be more true for the building industry.

11. At the moment I am reading?

The Whisper Man, by Alex North…..very scary!

12. My life in 4 words?

Varied, appreciative, full, educational.