Casa Atibaia: How Nicholas Préaud Blends Digital and Real-World Architecture Casa Atibaia: How Nicholas Préaud Blends Digital and Real-World Architecture

Casa Atibaia: How Nicholas Préaud Blends Digital and Real-World Architecture

French architect and artist, Nicholas Préaud is working towards bringing his digital architectural project Casa Atibaia to the real world.

Nicholas Préaud is an innovator, bridging the gap between digital and physical planes. The French architect and digital artist sits down with Urth Magazine to discuss his Casa Atibaia project, how his architectural vision is intimately tied to nature, and the importance of research and development.

Today, artists are veiled by a sense of heterogeneity. Their work traverses a range of mediums and tends to be largely unclassifiable, particularly for those working with digital art. This new frontier of art history sees Nicholas Préaud joining the likes of Andrés Reisinger and Six N. Five, all of whom connect the dots between the imagined and the real through physical installations, architecture, furniture design and digital art. For Préaud, a Paris-based polymath, working in this broad contemporary discipline is a decision that aims “to question our ways of life, our ways of interacting with our environment and each other, and to question the traditional rollout of creative architectural processes.”
Préaud is an architect who studied in his hometown of Paris. His career path has taken him to the offices of several well known architectural firms including DGT Architects, Lina Ghotmeh Architecture, Nicolas Laisné Architectes, and more recently Sou Fujimoto Architects. This diverse experience led Préaud down avenues of research and development, and experimentation in architecture, furniture and product design fields. Working across these various fields and scales satisfied the young Parisian’s creative hunger, for a time. Préaud then pursued more abstract and digital presentations of his work in the built environment, breaking down the boundaries between the physical and digital world.
For Préaud, manifesting an architectural imagination is not something that occurs strictly in traditional modes of design and construction but instead, adopts the liberty of the digital age. Take Casa Atibaia, for example. Embedded in a rainforest setting, Casa Atibaia uses great voids and apertures to allow nature to penetrate a residence. The biophilic structure teeters on rocks and internally, makes further use of the geological elements as columns to support the roof. This intimate connection to nature is an undercurrent in a lot of Préaud’s vision, forever exploring architecture’s entertainment of its surroundings and found natural elements. “I always try to keep this as the central focus of a project,” Préaud ponders, “not as some fancy feature but rather because we know that this is what makes people feel good… being in close proximity to nature in a comfortable, clean and cozy space.”
Although initiated as a digital architectural project, Préaud is now working towards bringing Casa Atibaia to life in the years to come. Progress has been made from Préaud’s initial and ambitious vision, and with progress, comes new ideas. Casa Atibaia has become a springboard in which a much larger-scale project will be born from. Casa Atibaia is slowly coming to life and fruition with the help of community, institutional and corporate partners, plus a handful of knowledgeable and supportive art collectors. “Our project aims to merge the educational and artistic purposes of a cultural centre and foundation, with the comfort and beauty of unique accommodations for guests,” Préaud says. “We see the house not as a fixed, finished design but rather as a blank canvas for unforeseen and future spontaneous uses.” The current proposed configuration of Casa Atibaia sees the main house used in multifarious ways as a functional space for hospitality offerings, a showroom for unique art and design, as well as a laboratory for sustainable construction. Smaller, adjoining and satellite pavilions will accommodate guests and provide further exhibition and event spaces.
According to Préaud, having both digital and physical practices nourish each other, and the bridge he builds and walks between each extends his artistic possibilities. “All the fictitious spaces I imagine feed my real-life practice, and these can actually translate into real-life construction,” he claims. It’s Préaud’s understanding of engineering conventions like research and development that enable him to pioneer new pathways in more efficient, exciting, and sustainable architectural construction processes, and overall, in the creation of spaces we desire to inhabit.