Mandalay, Turks & Caicos
A dramatic pleasure dome in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Words by Sonya Carlesso. Photography by Steve Passmore www.provopictures.com
Perched on a windswept dune in south-eastern Providenciales, overlooking the rugged limestone terrain, the dark, irisrimmed horizon and pristine white sands of Long Bay Beach in the Turks and Caicos Islands, stands Mandalay – proud testament to barefoot elegance. With over 12,000 square feet of splendour, it basks in the cooling breeze carried by the easterly trade winds, inviting all who enter to embrace the indoor-outdoor lifestyle celebrated within its walls. Named after Kipling’s eponymous poem, the home casts wide its spell, beckoning back all those fortunate enough to enter – “For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be… looking lazy at the sea; On the road to Mandalay…”
Winding along the palm tree-lined travertine driveway on approach to Mandalay, hand-crafted, wrought iron gates fall open to reveal a two-acre landscaped vision reminiscent of Renaissance design. Executed by local landscape designer, Natalie Zaiden, the classically inspired octagonal garden is enhanced with maturing bougainvillea and island ficus offering bursts of colour along radiating walkways, while a circular citrus orchard promises future harvests of luscious fresh fruit. Culminating in the impressive façade of Mandalay, a brilliant amalgamation of Caribbean Modern and British Colonial styles, the clean, crisp design masterfully blurs the line between natural and manmade to reflect a lifestyle that is particularly Caribbean. “The house is designed to maximise outdoor living; to create a tropical living environment where living spaces are literally outdoors, with covers, but no walls,” substantiates Ron Shaw of RA Shaw Designs and Mandalay’s creator.
Like an intricate mandala, the home is a collection of sharp lines and sinuous curves ingeniously intertwined to connect adjunct buildings by way of airy walkways that together embrace the home’s most striking feature – the pool pavilion. A textured wonderland of flowing cascades, trellised pergolas and stepped drops, 140,000 gallons of water streams and surges, collecting in recesses and giving the impression of a house rising stoically from the ocean floor. Mixing fire and water, at the centre of this aquatic kingdom, an extravagant pool lounge is equipped with an ambient blue recycled-glass fire pit around which guests may enjoy an evening under celestial skies, mirrored down below by a dazzling light display from LED lights inconspicuously strewn throughout the pool.
Clad in a modern interpretation of the old Bermudian shingle system, the impressive tripartite roof features overlapping rows of dazzling white concrete tiles that seamlessly connect to the concrete guttering system and concrete walls proving the structure indomitable in hurricane winds while being aesthetically arresting. Embellishing the symmetrical façade, a double staircase organised around the ground central entrance climbs to a grand porch behind which lies the informal, open-air living room flanked by two upper and two lower level guest bedrooms. On the ocean side, another double staircase frames the furthest reaches of the pool winding up from the powder soft sands of the beach to the kitchen, formal living spaces and master bedroom. Secluded behind an embrasure, sits the master courtyard replete with lush vegetation, its own spa tub, shaded daybed for an impromptu afternoon nap and outdoor shower – a refreshing temptation in the hot Caribbean summer.
Utilising both traditional and cutting-edge design solutions, by day, jalousied windows block direct sunlight allowing nature’s cool breezes to circulate within; high-arched windows admit the eternal summer sun and glass pocket doors frame views of the great outdoors. Yet, as night falls, bath and kitchen countertops and backsplashes made of eco-friendly glass and under-lit by LED lights morph into a glowing spectacle so that the entire home radiates with luminous warmth. A cathedral ceiling, reaching as high as 20 feet, reveals a clever geometric system of Philippine mahogany slats laid half an inch apart over black felt paper to create an illusion of a never-ending ceiling in constant motion; a projector quietly descends from its home in the cupola belying the past and revealing a smart, contemporary house, controlled locally and remotely by Creston technology.
On any given day, the sound of children cavorting in the pool, guests dining alfresco by the sea, or kite boarders riding high across the Atlantic Ocean can be heard echoing throughout the house. Built on the laws of attraction, in spite of its lavishness, at its core Mandalay is pure enjoyment; an enthralling pleasure dome where formal meets informal, indoors meets outdoors, house meets beach. Like its namesake poem, the home’s magnetism beguiles the spirit, bidding “…come you back to Mandalay!”
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