The Colombians are such a creative and ingenious people that they can make furniture, houses, and even bridges, from a material as autochthonous as the guadua.
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Guadua bamboo forest in the Café Triangle/Photograph: Mario Carvajal/
Houses, hanging bridges, aqueducts, boats, floors, furniture, decorative items, musical instruments, and even paper, are made from this incredible material called “guadua” in Colombia.
This natural raw material is used for buildings as big as cathedrals (for example the Cathedral of Pereira in Colombia), as well as small handicrafts that attract the attention of tourists from all over the world.
Its main features are resistance, durability, and ease of handling. Thus its name of vegetable steel. It grows very quickly, reaching a height of thirty meters in only five years. In the right climate, like the one in the Coffee Cultural Landscape, it can grow up to eleven centimeters a day and can reach its maximum height in six months. It is a sustainable, renewable resource that multiplies itself by the vegetative spreading of roots.
The guadua is a type of bamboo that is characteristic of the Coffee Triangle and the Andean region.
The guadua also possesses ecological characteristics: it is an important source and regulator of water and it captures carbon dioxide and purifies the environment.
On the other hand, it is a very light-weight and flexible material that allows the construction of earthquake-resistant buildings and lends itself to very original designs that have become typical of the Colombian landscape. For this reason, in recent years, the guadua has attracted more and more engineers and architects who see it as an excellent alternative that easily competes with concrete and steel.
For this reason, in recent years, the guadua has attracted more and more engineers and architects who see it as an excellent alternative that easily competes with concrete and steel.
Several projects using this novel material have been carried out in the Coffee Cultural Landscape. The most representative is the famous Zeri Pavilion built by the renowned architect Simón Vélez in the Recinto de Pensamiento in Manizales. Architect Vélez also built the “Guadua Pavilion", a star attraction at the Expo-Hannover 2000 World Fair in Germany. He amazed Germany with the originality, beautiful designs, and functionality of the guadua as a construction material.
Other guadua projects include two large toll booths on the Pereira – Manizales y Pereira – Armenia highway. The creativity of their design attracts the attention of tourists.
A toll booth made of guadua bamboo /Photograph: Mario Carvajal/
Aside from being a highly appreciated material in architecture and construction, in the hands of our artisans, it is excellent material for manufacturing well-designed furniture, lamps, and other accessories of everyday life that constantly remind us of their origin in the Colombian landscape.
Guadua groves have been growing in Colombia for centuries becoming an indispensable element of our land of coffee. Thanks to the creativity and talent of our artisans, the guadua continue to be transformed into original creations that make Colombia famous.