Holiday home of the week: a modern retreat hidden in the South African mountains

Secluded in nature

Surrounded by mountains, ancient forest and ferns, this minimalist holiday home in South Africa’s Cape Overberg is a serene haven from the rat race.

Cape Villa was designed by its owner, in collaboration with Johannesburg architect Georg van Gass of Gass Architecture Studio, as a refuge from his fast-paced career in finance. They worked from the premise of function over form and took their cue from nature.

‘We tried to keep the architecture non-invasive and, where the four hectares of lawn end, let nature speak,’ says the owner.

The single-storey structure is arranged in a U-shape, with the central living area incorporating an open-plan kitchen, sitting room and walk-in wine cellar. Across the courtyard are two guest suites, sleeping up to six, which are available to rent via Welcome Beyond for €550 a night.

Simple, clean lines reflect the owner’s design ethos of ‘crisp minimalism — glass, steel, stone, only natural materials with very fine finishes.’

Holiday home in South Africa designed by Gass Architecture Studio
Photography: courtesy of Gass Architecture Studio / Welcome Beyond

Outside is an extraordinary blend of wild and tamed nature. In the courtyard there is a 16-metre solar heated pool, while next to the house is a rose garden in the shape of a maze. Rising directly in front of the house is a dramatic ‘kloof’ or gorge, and the adventurous can take a four hour hike along the verdant trail up to the heart of the mountain, into the indigenous forest.

Others can make the most of the pool and the entertainment room, complete with home theatre system, or simply enjoy the views.

‘The nighttime is amazing, there is no sound whatsoever,’ says the owner. ‘Forget the Sistine Chapel, this sky is magnificent.’

The holiday home is tucked into a wide valley basin between the towns of Swellendam and Ashton. It is a 200km drive from Cape Town and an hour away from Cape Agulhas, Africa’s southernmost tip, while it is overlooked by the imposing peaks of the Langeberg mountain range. Nearby attractions include the Cape’s wine groves, the famous Garden route and relatively undiscovered nature reserves.

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