P2 – Opinions


Born in Manizales, Colombia in 1949, Simon Velez is the son and grandson of architects. Almost 35 years ago, Simon discovered a very simple construction technique that revolutionized the way we can build with bamboo. This technique, consisting of injecting cement mortar in the empty chambers of bamboo where there are structural unions, allows for the bamboo to be utilized for the first time as a true “vegetal steel.” While the architecture of Simon Velez has a strong reference to vernacular traditions, he has pushed the limits of bamboo construction to achieve more modern and contemporary structural and architectural expressions – large spans, voluminous spaces with impressive heights, elliptical domes and cupula structures.

Simón’s basic theory is that architecture must be more vegetarian. He believes that there is an overdose of minerals (concrete, steel and glass) in the construction industry, especially in third world countries. He argues for a more balanced and mix-material/mixed-structure approach to building and design, and the incorporation of more natural material elements in construction. To date, Vélez has designed and constructed over 200 buildings (not only in bamboo) in Germany, France, USA, Brazil, Mexico, China, Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and India. His most notable works are the bamboo pavilion in Expo Hannover (2000), Nomadic Museum in Zocalo Square in Mexico City for the photograher, Gregory Colbert (2008), Crosswaters Ecolodge in the forests of Nankun Shan Reserve (Guangzhou, China 2003). As of 2014, he has been working together with his design partner and wife, New York born designer Stefana Simic, in their studio based in Bogota, Colombia. 

» … construction in concrete as conceived in the third world produces cavernous spaces: a cave has a stone floor, stone walls and a stone roof. We do not come from caves, we are dwellers, we come from the trees and we are men of the treetops, even if we do now live in caves. Current architecture follows an exaggerated and unhealthy regimen. It is totally carnivorous. The state of nature demands that we come back to a more balanced, more vegetarian state … «


I think that Simon Velez is a person who has been able to experiment with a natural material that has properties similar to steel, since it is called natural steel, managing to design structures in various parts of the world with different geometry and different uses, such as bridges, houses, churches, etc. among others.

Taking a risk with a different architecture regardless of the fact that at first it was not commercial, but trying until it is successful is one of the main attractions towards this architect.


Incredibly I agree with many lines that Campo Baeza writes, because in my professional work in Colombia for almost 8 years, I have built dreams, it is what I always think when I am designing and building projects, building dreams for my clients that we finally get together for a few months with a specific purpose, they build their home, that is, make their dreams come true and I am with them to build those dreams, incredible to see how spending as much time as possible with the clients, designing and projecting the functioning of their family in a planimetry , I begin to know their tastes, for colors, for life, I understand their way of seeing life, their profession, their work and their family dynamics, it is more than designing a house or a space, it is more than building walls, it is tries to build lives and make dreams come true.

Foto durante el proceso de Acabados.
Foto en el terreno, Antes de iniciar el proceso Constructivo

I want to leave this photo on this Blog, because it is a photo that just by looking at it there are many things to say, some clients proud of their hiring for having hired us? or better we could say a family that has fulfilled its dream after many years, work and effort, we could also say that it is an accomplished achievement of a great process that lasted approximately 2 years, the time necessary to get to know each other, so that even today they are part of our friends, incomparable clients, with many dreams ahead but with a family that works differently from ours, a family that despite the distance between them are together thanks to new technologies, because for more than 11 years they dreamed of house of your dreams, and it is just like that with teamwork we achieve it!