Tech giants Airbnb are moving into property development, announcing plans this week that they plan to start building their own homes. Airbnb issued a release from co-founder Joe Gebbia stating the online accommodation providers are officially prototyping new ways to design, build and share homes. In 2016 Gebbia was a critical part of launching an Airbnb design arm called Samara and will be spearheading the home building initiative, “Backyard”.
Backyard aims to utilise sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies, and vast insight from the Airbnb community to thoughtfully respond to changing owner or occupant needs over time. The project's mission statement centres around Backyard being driven by a passion for humanistic, future-oriented and waste conscious design.
Airbnb first decided to venture into home building after discovering many of their hosts were modifying their homes to increase capacity and user experience.According to Gebbia, the tech giant is well placed to disrupt the construction and architectural industries, just as they did hotels. “Airbnb challenged conventional thinking and pioneered an entirely new industry,” Gebbia said. “We helped people activate underutilised space — from a spare bedroom or treehouse to your apartment while you’re away — and built a community that connected people around the world. “With Backyard, we’re using the same lens through which Airbnb was envisioned — the potential of space — and applying it more broadly to architecture and construction.”
Samara intend to use over a decade of accumulated knowledge from Airbnb on how people travel, live and share their spaces to improve the way homes are built. Gebbia says Backyard goes beyond a business opportunity and is about social responsibility. “The way buildings are made is outdated and generates a tremendous amount of waste,” he said. “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.” Gebbia anticipates that once functional, Backyard will make an impact on the US housing market which is currently sees sees the commencement of 3,300 new homes every day.
Samara intend to reveal their first prototype in late 2019.