Airbnb to move in to home design and manufacture in 2019

George Sell By George Sell
30 November 2018 | Updated 30 November 2018

US: Airbnb is preparing to launch its Backyard initiative, which will see the short-term rental giant designing and building homes.

The company described Backyard as "an endeavour to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes" and said its first test units will be distributed in 2019.

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said that the inspiration for Backyard came from asking: What does a home that is designed and built for sharing actually look and feel like?

"Backyard is an initiative to prototype new ways that homes can be built and shared, guided by an ambition to realise more humanistic, future-oriented, and waste-conscious design," Gebbia said. "It investigates how buildings could 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."

Backyard will include small prefabricated dwellings, green building materials, standalone houses, and multi-unit complexes. according to an interview with Gebbia published in Fast Company. It was in part inspired by a United Nations report indicating that, based on current projections, 2.5 trillion square feet of new buildings will be built worldwide by 2060. In the US alone, builders are starting construction on an average of 3,300 new homes each day, Gebbia said.

"For us, this goes beyond a business opportunity. It's a social responsibility," Gebbia said. "The way buildings are made is outdated and generates a tremendous amount of waste.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."

Gebbia said he hopes Backyard will become as big as Airbnb is today.

"Airbnb didn't have five- or 10-year metrics at day zero, we just focused on building something we thought could help solve a problem, while bringing people closer together," said Gebbia. "We're optimising for Backyard's potential. We're interested in thoughtfully exploring the opportunity and doing something transformative, similar to how Airbnb did when it started."

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