the 2009 prince claus award of 100,000 euro has been awarded to colombian architect simón vélez. the award which supports culture and development have been given every year since 1997 to artists, intellectuals and cultural organizations in africa, asia, latin america and the caribbean. the official ceremony will take place on december 16, 2009.

simón vélez prince claus award
bamboo structure by simón vélez for a campus in south america



simón vélez is known for his aesthetic and technical innovations in bamboo which have enhanced the material construction potential and challenged mainstream architectural trends. after completing his studies at universidad de los andes, bogota, vélez moved away from the predominant international stream to focus on indigenous architectural practices. he invented a new method to build foundations and roofs, which transformed one of the world’s oldest building materials, namely bamboo, into a modern resource that meets the strictest international construction regulations and can even outperform steel.

simón vélez prince claus award
a dome constructed with bamboo

simón vélez prince claus award
18 meter high tower, built in mangroves using bamboo as part of the national coffee park

simón vélez wins the 2009 prince claus award
prototype for the zeri pavillion



for expo hanover 2000, vélez designed and constructed a 2000-square-meter bamboo pavilion for ZERI (zero emissions research initiative). the architect also participated in designing crosswaters ecolodge, the first ecotourism destination in china in the forests of nankun shan mountain reserve, in the guangdong province.