Airbnb

Airbnb to start testing prototype homes in 2019

Dec 3, 2018
  • Article by Natalie Mortimer

Airbnb wants to improve the way homes are designed, built and shared and will begin testing its own prototype homes from next year. 

It has already disrupted the travel industry and now Airbnb is turning its attention to the architecture industry with the launch of Backyard, an initiative to prototype new ways of designing homes.

Backyard will assess how new manufacturing techniques, smart-home technology and feedback from Airbnb customers can be used to design new types of buildings that adapt to changing owner or occupant needs over time. The initiative is being explored at Samara, the experimental product development team that co-founder Joe Gebbia leads at Airbnb.

Citing United Nations projections that global construction will rise at an unprecedented rate over the next 40 years, amounting to a new Paris being built every week, Gebbia says the initiative “goes beyond a business opportunity, it’s a social responsibility”.

“The way buildings are made is outdated and generates a tremendous amount of waste. In order to meet the demands of the future, whether it be climate displacement or rural-urban migration, the home needs to evolve, to think forward.”

The Samara team came up with the concept after surveying the construction industry in search of practical solutions, ranging from eco-friendly building materials to fully prefabricated homes, but couldn’t find what they were looking for.

“Simply put, nothing addressed long-term adaptability from a systemic perspective,” project lead Fedor Novikov adds. “The only way to close the gap was to work from first principles and imagine entirely new approaches for building homes.”

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