Simón Vélez: Architect / Mastering Bamboo
Pierre Frey and Deidi von Schaewen
Simón Vélez was born in Manizales, Colombia, in 1949, and began his career forty years ago. Vélez is renowned for his joinery systems that brilliantly utilize bamboo as a permanent structural element in both residential and commercial structures. For four consecutive years he has been invited by the Vitra Design Museum and the George Pompidou Centre to conduct workshops in France in which structures of bamboo-guadua were built as an instructive exercise. In this monograph, illustrated by Deidi von Schaewen’s photographs, Pierre Frey offers us a rare insight into the works of this architect. Throughout the book, texts and images introduce us to a panorama of constructions as well as to the architect’s idiosyncratic construction techniques, which are part of a vernacular architecture that the author considers as ‘symptomatic of the state of the world and societies populating it’. Whether he is working with concrete, steel or other forms of wood, he works in the same way. He energetically defends his status as bambousero and is skilled at distinguishing materials and assigning them functions in accordance with their performances. He has persuaded his richest clients to build luxury residences from the material most used by simple peasants. He has also managed to convince many large public administrations, town council or businesses concerned about the environmental impact of their activities to adopt and promote guadua bamboo.