Maria Carrizosa: Maria is a licensed architect in Colombia and holds an undegraduate degree in architecture from Universidad de Los Andes and a dual Master’s degree in Architecture, and City and Regional Planning (Housing and Community Development) from UC Berkeley. Her design practice ranges from institutional to housing projects, developing two award-winning projects for a public library and a music school in rural communities. She has been involved in architectural education in both Colombia and the US and is currently working in New York City as an architect. Maria is interested in collaborative practices in both architecture and planning to provide communities with the necessary tools to improve and shape the spaces they live in. 

Natalia_pa_oleta-BWNatalia Dulcey: Natalia holds an architecture degree form the National University in Colombia, and a Master’s degree in Resource Management for Tropical and Sub-tropical Countries from the FH-Köln in Germany. Natalia has participated in various self-help community based projects focusing on the use of bamboo and other natural materials, both in Southeast Asia with the Homeless Philippines Federation, and in Colombia with the Escuela para la Vida Foundation. Her work focuses on developing architectural projects with local materials and build capacity in vulnerable communities. Natalia believes that this type of collective architecture is a catalyst for change improving areas that are marginalized, as well as a tool for cultural rehabilitation and improve representation.

Adriana Navarro: Adriana holds a dual Master’s degree in Architecture, and City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. She currently works as Housing and Urban Planning Advisor with  UNOPS, the operational branch for the UN. Focusing on housing reconstruction and urban rehabilitation in Haiti, Adriana has been exploring the use bamboo as an alternative solution for construction and environmental protection in the country.  Born and raised in Colombia (S.A), she received a BS Arch from the University of Virginia in 2004. After working for Rafael Viñoly Architects, and OPX Global in Washington DC, Adriana moved to California to begin her graduate studies. As a 2010 John K. Branner Fellow, Adriana traveled the world, focusing her research, FAVELA CHIC, on socio-cultural aspects of design, particularly analyzing the role and relationship between architecture, planning and urban informality. Adriana is also the founder of the blog FAVELissues, an interdisciplinary platform on urban informality and urban development. 

portrait 2013_small-BWRoberto Deseda: Roberto is an architect, urban designer, fabricator and visualist with triple Master degrees in Architecture, Urban Design and Construction Management. Growing up in Puerto Rico, he noticed the lack of tropical architectural identity that plagues the island and much of the surrounding region as they emulate the volume-driven and climate-cancelling architecture of other nations.  As a result, he defines himself as a critical regionalist: seeking an architecture that is honest and modern in design while based geographically and culturally.

As Roberto strives towards developing a regional architectural identity for his homeland, he studies other regions with strong ties to traditional building practices. Through programs like Building Local, he invites others to discover these vernacular building techniques that not only reflect a region’s geography and culture, but are also indispensable in physically shaping its identity.


Foto Ximena Londoño 2014 BRXimena Londoño is a specialist in botanical taxonomy of American bamboos, with a focus on the Guadua genre. She is co-author of the book The American Bamboo (1999), edited by the Smithsonian press, and a collaborator for the book Bamboo. Tropical Forestry (2015), edited by W. Liese y M. Köhl and published by Springer International Publishing.   In addition to being the author of multiple publications, Ximena is a member of the International Group for phylogeny of bamboos (Grupo Internacional sobre Filogenia de los Bambúes – BPG). She is the current president of the Colombian Society of Bamboo, the president of INOTEC’s the technical committee 178 “Guadua- Bamboo”, and one of the most active promoters of research– at a national and international level- on Guadua and other bamboo species. Ximena is also the director and the company Bamboo Verde Esmeralda (which encompasses the Bamboo and Guadua Paradise agro-tourism and education organization).

Olga Mesa Headshot

Olga Mesa is a LEED certified architectural designer and researcher, with over ten years of practical experience, and currently pursuing a Master in Design Studies from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (GSD). Her concentration is in Technology and her research lies at the intersection of computer-controlled fabrication and material properties. In her field, Olga is particularly interested in biologically inspired design and is part of the Alive research group working in collaboration with the Wyss Institute.

She is a faculty member at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she teaches core design and advanced studios in the department of architecture. She has also taught architectural studios at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), North Eastern University (NEU), and at the Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial (UTE) where, along with her students, she researched, designed, and built projects located in the Ecuadorian rainforest.


4521862099_8d58b87d42_z (1)Simon Hossie : An award winning architect focusing on bamboo, Simón is a graduate from the Faculty of Architecture of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in 1999. He is the Founder of the Laboratory of Architecture and + Architecture magazine. At the the 2004 Architecture Biennale, Simón was awarded high honors for his project: Public Library La Casa del Pueblo, Guanacas, Inza, Cauca (Colombia). His work, defined by place and community, focuses on reflecting and empowering the values of the context and its inhabitants.

2db7728 (1)Luis Felipe Lopez: Luis Felipe is a Structural Engineer who has focused his work on bamboo construction. He was heavily involved in the research and development of the new seismic construction code for bamboo in Colombia.He has a Masters degree from the University of los Andes and A Bachelors in Engineering from the National University in Bogotá.  Luis Felipe has worked closely with world renown bamboo Architect Simón Vélez; and is currently a structural engineer advisor for the Hilti Foundation in the Philippines.


c3f04efad4Jose Fernando Muñoz Robledo: Professor Muñoz is a professor of Architecture at the National University in Manizales, Colombia. His research and work of over 20 years has focused on waddle and dub construction techniques (earth + bamboo + wood), with a particular interest in the adaptation and modernization of this vernacular technique, and its potential applications in modern architecture.

marcell_simon_wpMarcelo Villegas: Furniture designer, builder and craftsman, Marcelo has a wide career in both bamboo and timber. He is a partner of Simón Vélez and has designed as well as built and designed various new and innovative joints for bamboo construction. Among his built work, Highway toll, in collaboration with Simón Hossie stands out.  He has also written two books on bamboo architecture and furniture design, discussing the material from its source and and properties, to its different modes of industrialization: Bambusa Guadua (1989) and Guadua, Architecture and Design (2003) published by Villegas Editors.

More recently, Marcelo is working on the fabrication of structural bamboo panels, which BUILDING LOCAL will have the pleasure of seeing through a site visit and discussion with Marcelo.

fernan diazFernán Alfredo Diaz DuqueProf. Diaz  is a retired Professor of Architecture from the National University of Colombia in Bogotá. He has a Masters in Wood Construction from Bio-bio University in Chile, a Specialization in Wood Technology from the UNAC in Peru, a Specialization in Structures and Prefabrication from Karlsruhe University in Germany, and a Specialization in Industrial Construction from the Center for Scientific and Technical Construction (CSTB) in Paris. Prof. Díaz has done extensive research in wood and bamboo construction. He was director of CIBAM, the Center for bamboo and wood research, at the National University, and served as research coordinator in Colombia for the networks ALFA and CyTED, focusing on wood construction housing. Aside from his academic and research achievement, Prof Diaz is also a well-known consultant on wood and bamboo architecture in high-risk areas

arbodela-g (1) 2Gabriel Arboleda:  Five College assistant professor of environmental design, Gabriel holds a PhD in Architecture from UC Berkeley (Environmental Design in Developing Countries), a SMArchS from MIT (Architecture and Urbanism), and an Architect’s diploma from the Universidad del Valle in Colombia.

Gabriel is an architectural researcher and practicing architect. Both interests combine in the form of research of practice, and practice as research. His work mostly focuses on Latin America and the Caribbean, and explores the new frontiers of participatory design and planning, politics of sustainable design, ethnography of architecture, sanitation in developing countries, and alternative materials, methods and technologies for low-income housing.

IMG_6692Ivan Dario Solano: An architect, Ivan holds a Bachelors in Architecture from the National University of Colombia in Bogotá (1999),  and a Masters of Urbanism split between four European Universities:  IUAV Venezia with TU Delft, KUL Leuven and UPC Barcelona. Iván is the founder and principal of Jam designs, a studio focusing on sustainable design and landscape strategies with a focus on ecology, risk management and housing. His practice and teaching takes place in Colombia, Haiti and Italy. Following the earthquake in Armenia, Colombia, in the mid nineties, Iván has been particularly interested in the potentials of Guadua, a particular species of bamboo, in both architecture and landscape design for risk mitigation, reforestation strategies and particularly water management.

Logo-Bambu-turismo-Verde-EsmeraldaBamboo Verde Esmeralda. The Bamboo and Guadua Paradise is an agro-tourism and education organization that promotes the environmental, cultural, and socio-economical value of bamboo. The organization is directed by world renown bamboo taxonomist and researcher, Ximena Londoño. For more information please visit



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