Jorge Morán was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 1940. He received a degree in Architecture at the University of Guayaquil where he later taught in the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism for decades and also guided students’ theses in the Architecture Faculty at the Catholic University of Guayaquil.
Professor Morán was one of the first to compare the physical properties of bamboo with wood and recognize the great structural strength of some bamboo species. Feeling an affinity for the spectacular native timber bamboo, Guadua angustifolia - known locally as “caña guadua” and at the time used for mostly humble purposes - he devoted his life to researching and using this resource. Jorge was instrumental in developing the Hogar de Cristo social housing project by designing ecological housing built with Ecuadorian bamboo for low-income families. The families moved into dignified, environmentally-friendly houses, and being elevated, were safe as they were no longer subjected to flooding.
In Ecuador, the use of bamboo is pre-Columbian; the oldest evidence of use dates back 5,550 years from the Valdivian culture. Professor Morán explored all the historic information available relating to bamboo and his interests extended beyond bamboo’s use as a building material, examining the multitude of ways bamboo has helped mankind in the past and how it can help us now and in the future.
Jorge attended the 1st Latin American Bamboo Symposium held in Manizales, Colombia, where he met Oscar Hidalgo and other bamboo researchers, growers, architects and artisans. In 1982, he organized the 2nd Latin American Bamboo Symposium in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and never strayed from that investigatory path. Since those events more than twenty years ago, Jorge has continued to be a key player and contributor at bamboo conferences, training programs and symposiums worldwide. He is a mentor to many and his dedication has sparked a true evolution in South America to investigate the modern potential of naturally-occurring bamboos throughout continent. Furthermore, Jorge continues to serve as an advisor to the Latin American office of INBAR on their regional initiatives, technological advances and information exchange.
Colleague Ximena Londoño of Colombia beautifully described Morán’s life’s work as follows:
“Like bamboo, Jorge has always worked to form a strong network of rhizomes, where the ultimate goal is the collective welfare and not individual welfare. His work is as creative, practical and timely as bamboo. His generosity as a teacher and friend equate to the versatility of bamboo which is infinite, yet it is also a malleable. Jorge has maintained his passion for bamboo through these long years, equating the concept of sustainability with bamboos throughout time. Jorge is innovative: through his long career he has taken the bamboo culm and gradually transformed it into Esterbam, Plasbam, Ecubam, Tripbam, RecCel and PlasCel, among others.” (The product names refer to his modern bamboo-lumber innovations.)
Passionate and generous, Jorge recently created the Bamboo Documentation Center, a repository of Jorge’s many books, located at the Catholic University of Guayaquil where he was a professor for 40 years. Naturally, the small building is made of local bamboo and is aesthetically pleasing. "It's one of the best buildings of bamboo. This center will function as a library open to all university students and is very special because the books I have are scarce, they cannot be found in any bookstore," Jorge emphasized proudly.
Jorge Morán has been a guiding force and spokesman for bamboo in Ecuador and all of Latin America and is certainly a World Bamboo Pioneer!