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Born and raised in the city, Jovanne has always longed for the comfort of a true home by the sea. But it really all began in a wave pool that allowed her the first taste of what surfing may really feel like. At that time, as a College student, vacations meant exploring surf spots all over Luzon, such as La Union, Zambales, Real, and Baler. The quiet, rich and untouched Baler, eventually, became the place to be.

After graduating Architecture in UP Diliman, she packed her bags and made the big move. Living what would be called “the island life” has proved to work wonders for one’s lifestyle, psyche, and wellness. in Jovanne’s case, it meant expanding the horizon into sustainable architecture. Today, she’s a full-time mother of two, running the architecture firm The Quadrometric Group with her husband Wilson; all while spearheading sustainability initiatives such as the Ocean Care Movement.

In the midst of a busy schedule, the designer and builder tells BALBO her journey to architecture, how she marries her work and her environmental advocacy, and tips on building and designing a sustainable “dream” home.

BALBO: Tell us about you and sustainable architecture.

Jovanne: With sustainable architecture, I told myself I wanted to achieve this in all future projects one day, and the biggest dream, to have a structure built completely out of bamboo-inspired by Ibuku in Bali, Indonesia. I’m still currently working on my path there, and I’m learning new sustainable ways in construction and architecture as I go through it.

BALBO: Sounds interesting! What are the sustainable innovations you’ve discovered so far?

Jovanne: For example, I’m lining my designs with passive cooling, and trying to achieve a few methods to eliminate the use of air conditioning, which emits one of the biggest carbon footprints. There is so much progression with regards to technology in construction for the betterment of the planet and it is a good advantage to learn from it and try to apply them in building.

BALBO: Given your profession and your advocacy for ocean care, how do you apply such environmentally-conscious practices to your projects?

Jovanne: Ocean Care Movement is a passion project created to raise awareness to protect our ocean from trash being discarded everywhere. Since garbage is an issue, I try to address this to my design by providing proper garbage disposal and wastewater management in the buildings.

BALBO: And these projects are with clients in and out of Baler?

Jovanne: Definitely. I raise the current situation to clients who build in Baler. Garbage management and segregation need to be taken into consideration, and so far all agree and support the movement.

BALBO: We can imagine how this sustainable practices has positive effect to your own team.

Jovanne: Being in the construction industry, we teach our workers to lessen their use of plastics when buying construction materials, food, etc. In turn, they’ve also picked up raising awareness to tourists, friends, and family. A little word can go a long way.

BALBO: We love that environment safety and ocean care is the root of your sustainable practices, especially in Baler. How does surfing play a role in this movement?

Jovanne: Surfing is life–for our little family, at least. We work our schedule around surfing if it is there, and we instill what surfing brings to us to our kids to ground them and love and appreciate our oceans the way we do. We involve our kids in beach clean-ups and talks (pre-pandemic) until it becomes a part of them that it’s normal to pick up trash in places we visit. It saddens us that in every beach we go to, there is always trash to clean up.

BALBO: In marrying work with your daily life, how does architecture play into your own lifestyle today?

Jovanne: My daily life involves caring for the kids and doing chores, which greatly affects movement and ergonomics. As I go through my tasks every day, I’m working around the spaces I currently have and learning the things I need in order to have a more effective and sustainable way of living.

BALBO: A sustainable way of living is definitely the dream. How does one create or build a sustainable home?

Jovanne: Invest in things that you use the most. For example, if a household stays home most of the time, a solar-generated home is the way to go to reduce their carbon footprints and eliminate the option of having a generator for back-up, which releases too much gas! Aside from electricity being saved, you can conveniently use the appliances of the home without worrying about bills. Another way is to apply passive cooling in the building. It’s good to remember that warm air rises while cold air sinks, to start with.

BALBO: There’s certainly been a rising trend of home-making. In your opinion, how would you describe the “perfect home”?

One thing that should be greatly considered is what the pandemic is doing to our current lives and how it is affecting us in the long run. Condo living is giving us the obvious reason that it is not an ideal place to be locked in for months, as there are now more spaces that every person needs to live comfortably.

A family of kids would need a playroom or study room. A working parent would need a quiet space to attend virtual meetings. A healthy and body-conscious member would need a space to work out. Staying home also means utilizing the kitchen all the time, and more storage and appliances are needed. It all boils down to the family’s needs in order to achieve their “perfect home.”

BALBO: We absolutely agree! Lifestyle preferences vary, and needs are relative to every household. To anyone looking to move in a surf spot or by the beach, what advice could you give on best practices?

Reduce your carbon footprint. Have an awareness to climate change, and how it affects the self and the environment. Spread this to your travel buddies and friends you meet along the way. When surfing, try to stash in waste in your bikini or boardshorts and bring it with you to shore. Bring your own water bottles, utensils, and Tupperware.

BALBO: It seems like leading a sustainable lifestyle is all about simplicity.

Yes. Starting with your own habits can go a long way. It’s really not that hard to do!

Jovanne and her husband Wilson “Saddam” is the first professional Filipino surfer who helped developed Balbo’s balance board. See Jovanne’s designs and projects on Instagram at @jovannedesigns. For more updates on the Ocean Care Movement, follow its Instagram and Facebook page.

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