There are many fantastic images of bamboo design and architecture, which is being taken to the next level by Velez and others. With population growth and environmental crises what they are, bamboo may emerge as a key building material worldwide. Velez's mushroom dome for the Hannover Expo 2000 was a gorgeous massive structure in bamboo that established bamboo use in large-scale architectural projects.
However magnificent it is, the pavilion-as-statement suffers from its own pagoda poetry. The main block to widespread adoption of bamboo is its low-tech image, in both the developing and developed worlds. This low-tech, low-status image is why Colombians continue to build inferior concrete buildings, even after such structures are decimated by earthquakes (while leaving the bamboo buildings standing). The pagoda image reinforces associations with the past and low-tech traditional construction.
To move bamboo forward as a workaday modern building material, it needs to be used in a more ordinary International Style residential or office high-rise that successfully embodies the myth of hi-tech modernity. Wrapped in a glass and metal skin, this bamboo wolf-in-sheep's clothing would bare its fangs when asking Buckminster Fuller's (and Velez's) key question: "Gentlemen, what do your buildings weigh?." Unfortunately, "modernism" is a filthy word for Velez. Mexico's Luis Barragan created a new architecture by successfully fusing colloquial Mexican style with International Style - it will be interesting to see if Velez or one of his students can do something similar for high-tech bamboo construction.
The book is surprisingly thin on detailed treatment of Velez's own work. Would like to have seen more on the Luis Salazar residence, because its smaller scale and middle-class prestige make it more relevant to implementing the bamboo manifesto than the showy ZERI pavilion.
Whole double-page spreads are dedicated to suggestive connections between the bamboo forms and the work of other architects. But the book is relatively thin on diagrams on the types of bamboo joints, integration of bamboo with CAD, data on load bearing (compared with reinforced concrete for example) and other information outlining more precisely how to bring bamboo into the arsenal of modern construction.
That said, it is the best recent book to state the bamboo mainfesto of strength, versatility and modular nature of bamboo. If you have any interest in environmentally sound design, this is THE coffeetable book to have, but
...why wasn't it printed on bamboo paper?