In the latest episode of the #ThinkBamboo Podcast, host JJ sits down with Elle and Sergio, two passionate architects from the UK who have embarked on an incredible journey in Colombia. From exploring the untapped potential of bamboo to building a sustainable village, their story is nothing short of inspiring. Join us as we delve into their experiences, challenges, and their vision for a bamboo-filled future. EKAWA the rainforest sanctuary for creativity and healing holds space for inspired living immersed in rainforest life. Located in the San Blas valley between San Carlos and San Rafael in Antioquia, Colombia.
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Video Quick Links
00:06 Architects build bamboo structures in Colombia
04:47 Bamboo growth and harvesting in San Blas Valley
08:57 Reforestation of floodplains through bamboo cultivation
12:44 Designs are unique experiments, each is a new experience
16:44 Innovative bamboo architecture in a tropical region
21:00 Retreats and workshops in a sustainable village
25:10 Lessons learned from building with bamboo
00:37 Bamboo Village is receiving expressions of interest
The Bamboo Workshop That Changed Everything:
Elle and Sergio’s story began when they received an opportunity to conduct a bamboo workshop in Colombia. The land, owned by Sergio’s grandfather, became the perfect canvas for their experiment. With awe-inspiring bamboo groves waiting to be utilized, the duo saw tremendous potential in this space. In 2018, they brought 20 students from a British university to help build their first structure, setting the stage for their life-changing journey.
From Architects to Bamboo Enthusiasts:
Elle and Sergio’s initial connection with bamboo was purely professional, as architects exploring new materials. However, as they delved deeper into the project, their connection with bamboo grew on a personal level. It transformed from a mere building material to a lifestyle. Inspired by the beauty and versatility of bamboo, they decided to make it their home.
Embracing Colombian Culture:
Moving from the UK to Colombia was no small feat, but Elle and Sergio embraced the challenges wholeheartedly. While Sergio already spoke Spanish, Elle faced the hurdle of learning a new language. Their shared passion for bamboo helped bridge any communication gaps, as they focused on building their dream and immersing themselves in the local culture. They even incorporated elements of Colombian design and aesthetics into their bamboo structures, creating a unique fusion of styles.
The Magic of Guadua Bamboo:
Colombia’s abundance of guadua bamboo, a thick and tall variety, captivated Elle and Sergio. They discovered that their guadua angustifolia bamboo grove surpassed other varieties in the region, leaving even experienced locals impressed. Their newfound curiosity led them to explore other bamboo species, such as yellow and green-striped varieties, for furniture-making. However, they recognized the exceptional quality of guadua for construction, making it the primary focus of their work.
The Bamboo Lab: A Space for Creativity:
Elle and Sergio describe their journey as an ongoing experiment, where they learn from the bamboo itself. They refer to their project as a “lab” where they continuously explore the material’s possibilities. With the establishment of the Bamboo Lab, they aim to create a space where like-minded individuals can gather, share their talents, and learn from each other. They envision a vibrant bamboo village, where the community contributes to its growth, one house at a time.
Challenges and Triumphs:
Building with bamboo comes with its own set of challenges. Termites are a constant concern, but Elle and Sergio have learned to adapt and protect their structures. They emphasize the importance of being present throughout the construction process, ensuring the integrity and longevity of their bamboo creations. Over time, they have witnessed the bamboo becoming stronger and more resilient, showcasing its incredible natural qualities.
A Vision for the Future:
Elle and Sergio’s vision extends beyond their personal journey. They envision their bamboo village as a hub for retreats and workshops, where people can come to experience the magic of bamboo firsthand. With each passing year, their village will grow, welcoming more individuals who share their passion and commitment to sustainable living. Their plans for the future include a rammed-earth house, dated to open in 2024, further expanding the Bamboo Lab’s capacity to host and inspire.