Simón vélez, the bamboo architect at the venice architecture biennale

30/5/2016 /1923 Views

Simón vélez, the bamboo architect at the venice architecture biennaleColombian architect simón vélez is well known for developing a variety of projects using bamboo. what is less known is how many paths he has had to travel to be able to carry out such developments. he likes to call bamboo the ‘vegetable steel’, as it is an economical, renewable, extremely resilient, easily available material, capable of being used by people with very different building skills. despite all these advantages, he has had to undergo indescribable struggles every single time he has tried to use it.

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
Simón vélez is an architect known for his innovative use of bamboo as a building material

He has worked for rich clients in order to subsidize himself and create new knowledge that can be applied when working for poorer clients. he himself has tested innovations, such as the introduction of concrete into the nodes to improve the structural capacity of the weakest point in the system. he has lobbied for the use of bamboo in public projects because of its relevance to the place if compared to other, less appropriate materials and building techniques alien to the context. he has even tried to update obsolete building codes, highlighting the fact that new technologies and knowledge have improved the viability of this material and made it a competitive alternative for the construction identity.

In this sense, each of his buildings are a small, discrete battle that has been won in a more general attempt to expand the benefits of this material for the majority and for the environment.

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
This hanging structure has the part of the bamboo that goes under the soil, which is the strongest one

Designboom is reporting live from venice ahead of the biennale’s public opening on may 28th. follow our ongoing coverage of the event here, and stay tuned to our dedicated instagram account — @venice.architecture.biennale — where designboom’s editorial team will continue to feature the latest photos, interviews, and exhibitions live. join us by sharing your favorite images from the biennale using the hashtag #biennaleBOOM.

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
The exhibition has two different models from the architect’s work.

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
Vélez calls bamboo the ‘vegetable steel’

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
Bamboo is an economical, renewable, extremely resilient, easily available material

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
Vélez has worked for rich clients in order to subsidize himself and create new knowledge.

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venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
He has lobbied for the use of bamboo in public projects because of its relevance to the place

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
Each of his building is a small discrete battle

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
Examples of his work

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom

venice architecture biennale 2016 simon velez bamboo designboom
Portrait of the colombian architect.

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