Simón Vélez (Manizales, Colombia, 1949) is a unique architect, characterized by the use of bamboo in his works, a graduate of the University of the Andes of Bogotá.
Vélez has created connection systems that incorporate bamboo as a permanent structural component in both commercial and residential structures. He has been invited in four consecutive years by the Vitra Design Museum and the George Pompidou Center to teach workshops in France, where as a learning exercise, bamboo structures were built with Guadua.
For Expo Hanover 2000, Vélez designed and built a 2000-square-metre bamboo pavilion for the ZERI (Zero Emissions Research Initiative). This structure consisted of bamboo, recycled cement, copper and panels formed by a mixture of terracotta, cement and bamboo fiber.
Vélez participated in the design of the Crosswaters Ecolodge, the first ecotourism destination in the forests of the Nankun Shan Mountain Reserve in Guangdong Province, China. At the time, it was the world's largest commercial project that uses bamboo. The project received the 2006 Honorary Analysis and Planning of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
In 2009, he was awarded the Prince Claus Prize, in honor of his aesthetic use of natural materials in his creations.
Vélez has designed bamboo buildings in Germany, France, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, China, Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and India. Examples of his work include the nomadic Museum of the Zócalo in Mexico City, which was the exhibition house for the installation “Ashes and Snow” by Gregory Colbert. Other examples include the Pavilion Zeri from Manizales, installations of the Autonomous Regional Corporation of Risaralda (CARDER) (Pereira, Colombia), Our Lady of Poverty Cathedral (Pereira, Colombia) and many others.