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Grow Your Own House: Simon Velez and Bamboo Architecture [Paperback]

Mateo Kries , Jean Dethier , Klaus Steffens , The Vitra Design Museum
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Grow Your Own House: Simon Velez and Bamboo Architecture + Building with Bamboo: A Handbook + The Barefoot Architect
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Product details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Vitra Design Museum; Bilingual edition (30 Sep 2002)
  • Language: German
  • ISBN-10: 3931936252
  • ISBN-13: 978-3931936259
  • Product Dimensions: 29.2 x 24 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 632,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Bamboo as a construction material is being rediscovered today: not only is it considered extremely cost effective and durable, it also has an unmistakable aesthetic appearance. Architect Simon Velez appreciates the qualities of bamboo and has used the material in many of his buildings, his pavilion for the ZERI Foundation at Expo 2000 being a good example. At 40 metres in diameter and 17 metres high, it is one of the largest bamboo structures in the world. Throughout the 20th century architects have experimented with bamboo such as Buckminster Fuller, Frei Otto, Renzo Piano, Shoei Yoh and Arata Isozaki. The material has also had an impact within other disciplines; Charlotte Perriand has created furniture, and the Japanese stage designer Hiroshi Teshigahara is known for his bamboo set creations. This publication documents the historical significance and unique properties of bamboo and points to its possible future uses as society looks for more sustainable means of living.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars grow your own house 27 Oct 2010
By Conan
Great book, read it cover to cover same day of receiving it, explains all the key points of combining an innovative way of joining bamboo- with injected mortar joints and threaded bar. Just like meccano... you can easliy build lightweight flexible structure, that's strong enough to pass German building regs !

Did a workshop with Simon at the Vitra summer courses at Boishbuchet and was pleasantly surprised to see a structure I worked on in the book


growing my own timber bamboo now... gonna be a few years till harvest !
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4.0 out of 5 stars 'Grow your own house' 20 April 2011
Book arrived on time and in very good condition so very pleased. Was very well packaged as well to protect book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
90 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars bamboo manifesto 7 April 2001
By "adamcc" - Published on
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?
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You Can't Grow Your Own House! 4 Aug 2007
By Jim Francis - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A deceiving, gimmicky title that doesn't measure up to the book's contents.

Lots of color pictures of absolutely huge bamboo community structures (NOT houses!) that basically all look the same. There's hardly any variety - just huge bamboo roofs suspended on bamboo stilts designed by the book's author.

I bought the book because it mentions "House" in the title but it hardly has any "houses" in it... maybe photo's of 3 bamboo houses in total.

The book is written in German text with an English translation printed alongside... so half of each text page is taken up with the German text.

The book shows a few pictures of bamboo joints made by filling the ends with concrete and embedded bolts secured to metal joints. It doesn't tell you where to buy those joints because they are custom made.

That was the most useful information found in the book from my perspective.

So... I'm still looking for a book about bamboo houses!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a good book for building instructions 30 Aug 2008
By Lee Lester - Published on
This book has some great pictures of structures built with bamboo. However, if you are looking for instructional books on how to build with bamboo, this isn't the first book I would buy.
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, not practical 19 Nov 2013
By renzimm - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting, not practical. Simon Velez is very inspiring, but this book was more about the architecture atmosphere and conferences than actually growing or building with bamboo.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bamboo King in Columbia 12 Dec 2010
By Lake Tree Farm LLC - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Now here's a book that blows all stereo-types of Bamboo shacks. From small houses to soaring open spaces the descriptions, history and pics make you wanna forget studs and sheetrock and grow bamboo. Thumbs up and go to listen to the NPR interview with Simon Velez that prompted me to Google him and find this book of all places on Amazon! Go Simon, Go Amazon !! Now gotta build one!
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