Airbnb has announced its latest initiative, with the company set to move into designing houses. Back in 2016, Airbnb cofounder and chief product officer Joe Gebbia launched a new future projects division of the company named Samara. This division is now launching an initiative named Backyard, which it describes as “an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes.” The first prototypes of Samara-designed homes are set to launch in 2019.
Although the project’s name — Backyard — implies small scale buildings, it is set to be more ambitious than that. As well as small prefabricated houses, Airbnb is also planning on looking at standalone houses, multi-unit complexes and even green building materials. Details on the project are scarce, although the buildings are set to be designed for sharing and adaptability.
Speaking to Fast Company, Gebbia explained that “Backyard investigates how buildings could utilize sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies, and gains vast insight from the Airbnb community to thoughtfully respond to changing owner or occupant needs over time. Backyard isn’t a house, it’s an initiative to rethink the home. 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 explored this area before. In 2016, the San Francisco-based company launched the Yoshino Sugi House in Japan, while reports emerged last year that it was planning a 300 unit apartment block.