Simón Vélez is a prize-winning architect, and a proponent of bamboo as an essential building component. Vélez was born in Manizales, Colombia, in 1949. His father and grandfather were architects
Vélez created joinery systems that 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 Georges Pompidou Center to conduct workshops in France in which structures of bamboo-guadua were built as an instructive exercise.
For Expo Hanover 2000, he designed and constructed a 2000-square-meter bamboo pavilion for ZERI Foundation (Zero Emissions Research and Initiative). The structure utilized bamboo, recycled cement, copper, and a mixture of terracotta, cement and bamboo fiber panels. It was the first time in history that a bamboo structure received a building permit in Germany. His partner and financier, Gunter Pauli in this project committed to convert bamboo as the symbol of poverty into the symbol of sustainability. With 6.4 million visitors it did become the most popular pavilion of the World Expo.
He participated in designing Crosswaters Ecolodge, an ecotourism destination in China in the forests of Nankun Shan Mountain Reserve, in the Guangdong Province. It the largest project in the world to the use bamboo in a commercial project and the first project of this scale in Asia to use bamboo as a structural element in a dwelling. The project received the American Society of Landscape Architects 2006 Analysis and Planning Award of Honor.
Vélez has designed bamboo buildings in Germany, France, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, China, Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and India. He designed the Zócalo Nomadic Museum in Mexico City, which houses Gregory Colbert's "Ashes and Snow."
In December 2009 he received The Principal Prince Claus Award for his contribution to a positive interaction between culture and development. This prestigious Dutch award, founded by the Royal Prince Claus(†), has a price of €100,000. Since 1997 the Prince Claus Awards are presented annually to artists, thinkers and cultural organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Collaborating with Sanjay Prakash, and in partnership with Pradeep Sachdeva, Simon Velez participated in EXPO 2010 Shanghai China as part of the team for the Indian pavilion.
Simón Vélez has designed some new exciting bamboo buildings for Longquan International Biennale (LIB), which will be launched from the Municipality of Longquan, Zhejiang Province, located approximately 500km south of Shanghai, PR China.The LIB is an architectural event staged every two years, in which architects of international stature are invited to build habitable buildings in a location of cultural and historical importance. The first LIB, which is due to open in November 2013, invited twelve internationally renowned architects to rise to the challenge.
- "2009 Prince Claus Awards". website. The Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
- Mateo Kries, Jean Dethier, Klaus Steffens, and The Vitra Design Museum (30 Sep 2002). Grow Your Own House: Simon Velez and Bamboo Architecture. The Vitra Design Museum. pp. 262 pages. ISBN 978-3-931936-25-9. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
- ASLA.org 2006 ANALYSIS AND PLANNING AWARD OF HONOR. Accessed 4 July 2010.
- Art Knowledge News Accessed 4 July 2010