Airbnb to Begin Designing, Building New Homes
November 30, 2018
Airbnb is moving beyond helping people rent out space in their homes. Now it wants to start providing the actual houses, too. The company has announced plans for a new venture that will design and build homes, called “Backyard.” Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia describes it as “an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes.”
Airbnb officials say they want to combine the use of smart-home tech and sophisticated manufacturing techniques—including those from prefabricated dwellings and green building materials—with their experience in the vacation rental industry to “reimagine the design of homes.” Gebbia told Fast Company he feels a moral imperative to ensure that new homes are designed well, and respond to changing owner and occupant needs.
Airbnb says it has created a team of industrial designers, architects, roboticists, mechanical and hardware engineers, policy experts and other professionals to move forward with the Backyard concept.
This is “an initiative to rethink the home,” Gebbia told Fast Company. “Homes are complex, and we’re taking a broad approach—not just designing one thing, but a system that can do many things.”
Airbnb has been vague about what exactly they’ll be building, but the spaces will be designed to be sharable, Gebbia says. The homes also will feature spaces that can be reconfigured to the occupants’ changing needs, Fast Company reports. The spaces also may support co-living arrangements.
The first Backyard test units are expected to become available as soon as the fall of 2019.
The new initiative will diversify Airbnb’s business. Airbnb, valued at an estimated $38 billion, has created a global network of more than 5 million homes for rent. “We’re interested in thoughtfully … doing something transformative, similar to what Airbnb did when it started,” Gebbia says.
Updated: July 10, 2020