Design stories: Geneseo Inn, Paso Robles, California

by | 07 Feb 2022 | Design

Walter Scott Perry

Walter Scott Perry, founder and principal of Ecotech Design, explains how he used shipping containers to create stylish modular accommodation in California’s winegrowing heartlands.

A one-of-a-kind luxury boutique hotel, Geneseo Inn in Paso Robles, California opened its doors in June 2020. This intimate eight-room newbuild, featuring architecture by Ecotech Design and interiors from Eliana Interior Design, comprises a series of shipping containers perched above the rolling vines of Cass Winery.

How did you come to be involved with the project?

As an experienced architect working with shipping-container housing, I was hired by the owner of Cass Winery to design a B&B facility for guests using shipping containers.

What was the design brief from the client?

To incorporate shipping containers as modular B&B units in order to create an iconic, sustainable and cost-effective design that would create a ‘wow’ factor to attract visitors from all over the country and the world.

How did you go about delivering the client’s brief?

Ecotech developed an initial site plan and, based on the owner’s requirements and response, optional layouts of the living units, entries, decks, parking, as well as outside shaded gathering spaces for guests.

What were your main sources of inspiration when designing the project?

The landscape and surrounding wine-country views, the seabreeze direction and the solar orientation. Also, the use of a local, vernacular design aesthetic to help the project blend in with the vernacular, agricultural architecture of the central California wine region.

What are the most innovative aspects of the project?

The use of recycled shipping containers and local materials, as well as the integration of covered parking with modular living spaces in clusters that surround a 50 ft high live oaktree.

Which element of the project’s design are you most proud of?

The raised container concept, with B&B units placed over parking in order to better access valley views and facilitate natural ventilation. Also, the integration of shipping containers and standard, recycled building materials to create a hybrid architecture.

What was the biggest challenge with the project?

The multiple permitting sequence requirements in order to process the project through San Luis Obispo County, with their outsourced plan check procedures, and the state of California.

How long did you work on the project in total?

Four years, approximately.

Has the finished project lived up to expectations?

It exceeded the expectations of the owner, me and Geneseo Inn’s many enthusiastic guests.

How would you sum up what this project has achieved?

It has created a unique lodging experience for visitors and set a new, progressive standard for sustainable guest housing in the wine country of California and elsewhere.

Geneseo Inn (imagery: © 2020 Paul Vu)

For more info, and to view an extensive gallery of hi-res images, check out the Geneseo Inn project page on the TOPHOTELDESIGN website.

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