In the picturesque valley between the historic farming communities of Swellendam and Ashton in South Africa’s Western Cape, there is a view so spectacular that the locals call it "God’s Window." It is in this pristine landscape that Sandy Herman, a retiree from the financial sector, built a minimalist villa to escape the rat race. For the project, he enlisted the help of Georg van Gass of Gass Architecture Studios. Together, Herman and van Gass conceptualized a home with minimal impact on the surroundings, choosing simple box forms and local materials that would recall its South African locale. What began as a retreat for Herman and his friends is now known as Godswindow, a resort that visitors can rent for $616 a night.
The buildings that comprise the villa form the 3 sides of a courtyard and pool, and are oriented towards the Langeberg Mountains, which make up a natural perimeter. "The house was inspired by the setting and how the built forms interact with the environment," says van Gass. "It was the design intent to keep the built forms simple to integrate into the landscape. This is keeps the setting as the hero of the project."
The glass facade and rising roofline of the main building, which holds the communal living and kitchen spaces, embrace the sweeping vistas. The smaller buildings house the bedrooms, bathrooms, and a recreation area, and are constructed with masonry walls and concrete roofs, providing a sense of solitude and peace. "You are totally in touch with the setting, and you can retreat to your cave to rest," says van Gass.
"It was the design intent to keep...the setting as the hero of the project." -van Gass
The minimum stay is 1 week for a maximum of 6 guests. For more information or to book your visit, head to the Godswindow website.