Today, the environment is one of the world’s biggest concerns. We are constantly reminded to recycle, to dispose our wastes properly, and to preserve our environment in countless other ways. Joy Onozawa takes this advocacy to heart and applies it even to her work in architecture.
A proud Cebuana, Onozawa got her early education from St. Theresa’s College Cebu, where she studied from kindergarten to high school. In 1980, she graduated cum laude with a degree in Architecture from San Carlos University also in Cebu. Keen on learning more, she took a tourism course held by the Department of Tourism together with the Cebu Normal College. She graduated in 1984 and was awarded the Most Outstanding Graduate. She also got a diploma in Integrated Conservation from the UNESCO Asian Academy of Heritage Management and pursued a masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
Although Onozawa started her career at a time when the environment wasn’t yet such a big issue, she eventually started to incorporate into her work a concern for the environment, which she believes should be a major aspect of architectural practice. However, it was working with the owners of Plantation Bay that she was first able to apply environmentally-friendly techniques in building methods. These techniques she has learned over time, beginning in her home, where gardening was everyone’s chore. A horticulturist and herbologist, her mother used natural healing methods whenever her children were sick. This was something Onozawa picked up and which captured her interest. She was able to apply many of these in her architecture.
Holding the belief that a healthy home comes from staying close to nature and its products, Onozawa has drawn much from local tradition when it comes to creating her own methods. She has used this in her work with Plantation Bay, and the management has so appreciated her approach that aside from her home office of her company, Environment Designs, she also has one in the resort. They continue their efforts in environmentalism as the resort attempts to earn an international certification from the Green Hotels Association.
Aside from her green advocacy, Onozawa is also active in preserving our heritage and receives much support from the government in her work as a heritage conservationist. The founder of the Cebu Heritage Conservation Council, she is intent on preserving the waterfront of Cebu. In 2001, her efforts in conserving the historical architectural “blue print” of Old Cebu were rewarded with a Cebu City Charter Award. In August 2007, she was named one of the Ten Most Outstanding Cebuanos in the field of architecture.
Formerly a president of the Cebu Chapter of the United Architects of the Philippines, Onozawa is a member of the Subcommittee on Monuments and Sites of the National Culture and Arts Commission, and is the Philippine representative to the ICOMOS International Committee on Built Heritage. She continues her advocacy as a consultant for conservation projects of various organizations, and by finding ways to teach about the important link between tradition and present-day conservation. She aims to raise awareness of our roots and history to instill cultural pride in more Filipinos.
The green architect is an outstanding example of what we all ought to be – driven to nurture not only ourselves, but also the Earth and our heritage. In every way she can, Onozawa strives to make a positive impact on our environment and our culture. Her success is not only her own, but ours as well.