Simon Velez (pic Pedro Franco)
The Principal Prince Claus Award 2009 goes to Colombian architect Simón Vélez. The Awards Ceremony will take place on the 16th December 2009 at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam. In addition, ten other laureates will receive awards in the Dutch Embassies in the countries where they live in the first months of 2010. The Prince Claus Awards have been given out every year since 1997 to artists, intellectuals and cultural organisations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Simón Vélez’s aesthetic and technical innovations in bamboo have enhanced it 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 is honoured for his aesthetic use of natural materials for contemporary design, for transforming local traditional indigenous knowledge through innovation that renews and extends its relevance as a source of solutions for global problems, and most importantly he is honoured for highlighting the essential rapport between sustainable design practices and social development, and between culture and nature.