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Witnessing a Vision
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Witnessing a Vision

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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

You hold in your hands an entirely unique issue of WaterShapes – distinct in that all four of the feature articles are about a single project called Jade Mountain.

Time will tell, of course, but Jade Mountain may turn out to be

one of the grandest expressions of “watershaping” in our lifetimes (or anyone else’s, for that matter). It is at the very least a work of vision and artistry that must be shared and seen to be believed.

Set on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, the project is the brainchild of architect/owner Nick Troubetzkoy, a man who has devoted years of creativity and resources to development of an inspiring, transcendent resort/vacation experience on the very highest level. It can loosely be termed a work of organic architecture and water, but that sells it short: This is a work of almost unimaginable scope, unlimited depth and truly visceral execution.

I was there in December 2006 for four days and experienced some of what the place is all about. The rooms, which are called “sanctuaries,” each have their own vanishing-edge pools, their own color schemes and their own architectural flavors. All of them are open to views of the ocean, the rainforest and the island’s rugged volcanic landscape, occupying spaces imbued with air, light and a sense of profound sculptural beauty.

As our contributing authors note, there are no televisions, no clocks and no phones, and at least one of each sanctuary’s walls is gone, leaving each room open to the sea air. The privacy is complete, but there’s always a sense of connection to the greater environment and the spectacular surroundings.

And everywhere you turn, there is water – flowing, reflecting, weaving its way through the system. And no two of the 25 pools are alike: Each has its own color and shape and offers guests a unique perspective on its role in their experience.

It is, at root, an environment defined by, integrated with and dramatically enhanced by a medium in which every watershaper works – but in this case, the work has been performed on a scale well beyond ordinary reckoning. Indeed, Jade Mountain often feels like a single, massive watershape: The water is not an adjunct to the place; rather, it’s at the very heart of the experience, inseparable from it.

There are four articles in this package: To start, longtime WaterShapes contributor Skip Phillips discusses the basic design challenges and solutions, followed by Troubetzkoy, who defines his overarching vision. Then you’ll see and read of the experiences of watershaper and hydraulics expert Chris Barnes, who actually managed the installation of the pool systems. Finally, tile designer and manufacturer David Knox explains the nature of the material he developed exclusively for this project, one color and piece at a time.

Enjoy this special issue of WaterShapes: We think you’ll be as inspired as we were by this opportunity to dig deep and sort through all the layers of a truly gargantuan, endlessly fascinating project.

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