Building with bamboo. Between tradition and high-tech
Andrés Bäppler was born in Colombia. The architect worked in various German architectural offices and then became self-employed with partners in Frankfurt and Berlin. In 1998, he was appointed to the Association of German Architects BDA.
In 2003, he began to realise a school for the children in Cali-Montebello with his Colombian brother and his community. To this end, he founded charitable associations in Colombia and Germany with his wife and friends. Educational projects for destitute children and young people in Colombia followed. Schools, training workshops, libraries and learning forests were built. In the process, he got to know and appreciate the native bamboo called “guadua” as a building material, from which he developed and constructed buildings and bridges.
“The most important realisation in this process was the experience that it makes little economic or ecological sense to submit to foreign materials and systems instead of focusing on local, existing resources and developing them further in an architectural language that ultimately also leads to a local identity.”
He initiated three international congresses – VIVAGUADUA, the Bamboo Festivals 2011, 2013 and 2015 in Cali- Colombia and was the host and responsible organiser with Fundación Escuela para la Vida. These congresses were attended by interested people from all five continents. Lectures followed at international symposia, architectural centers and universities. In 2019, Andrés Bäppler, co-author of the Laufen Manifesto, was awarded the special prize of the “First World Prize for Contemporary Plan Fiber-Based Architecture”, the “Fibra Award”, for his pioneering work in building with bamboo.
“Today we are faced with the question of how bamboo can be integrated into the product range of western building construction architecture. In terms of sustainability, CO2 issues, need for renewable resources, high resilience of bamboo products, accessibility of the raw material and development of international value chains, bamboo represents a forward-looking alternative locally and internationally.”