At the end of the week, I am traveling to Colombia to attend a construction workshop that will consist in building a kiosk with Guadua bamboo in Salento, a small town found in the Valley of Cocora.
The Valley of Cocora is located in the department of Quindio in the Central Cordillera of the Andean mountains. It is well renowned for its concentration of Quindio wax palm tree, the national tree and symbol of Colombia. The Valley of Cocora is also referred to as the "Coffee Region" for its abundant coffee plantations.
The climatic conditions in which coffee grows happen to be the same conditions required for the growth of Guadua bamboo... hence the workshop taking place in Salento.
Guadua Bamboo, or the "vegetal steel", is a strong grass that has widely been used for construction in Colombia. The amazing structural properties of this building material are an increasing source of curiosity for professionals in the construction field, including those in the most advanced international engineering firms.
My first exposure to the use of Guadua bamboo was during an architecture class at RISD. I proposed the use of this material for the designs of an ecotouristic center in la Guajira (Colombia). This project won the Gensler National Diversity Award in 2011.
After graduating from RISD, I kept my interest for bamboo alive by participating in the first two sessions of the Architectural Association Visiting School in Haïti. Those workshops consisted in designing projects with the use of bamboo, as a way to respond to the deforestation issues of the country.
I have also been very interested in visiting all the cool bamboo structures I could find in Haïti:
And even teamed up with two other young Haitian architects on the proposal of a commercial center in China with the use of this material, for the MOLEWA international design competition.
With the rich experience we've had collaborating for the project in China, my two team-mates and I will be attending the workshop in Colombia together.
After all the drawing, sketching and theorizing about the use of this fascinating material, I am absolutely thrilled to finally learn how bamboo performs in a real construction project. I look forward to this upcoming experience and will be back with news of this project at the end of summer.