Airbnb’s founders are launching a new initiative called Backyard, “an endeavour to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes” says chief product office and cofounder Joe Gebbia.
After successfully creating a global network of more than 5 million homes, castles and treehouses for rent, their business is worth an estimated $38 billion! The goal is to become not just the company that provides the housing but the company that provides the houses.
The first wave of test units will be going public in 2019. Small prefabricated dwellings could be in the roadmap, but so are green building materials, standalone houses, and multi-unit complexes. Gebbia says there is a moral imperative to ensure that new homes are designed well, with a small environmental footprint. The spaces will be designed to be shared, from the ground up. It means creating spaces that evolve and reconfigure to the occupant’s changing needs (Think walk in-closets that expand out of flat walls, and beds that can drop down from the ceiling on a whim).
Gebbia says “It’s too early to say,” how much a Backyard house will cost, but based on his comments and the looks of Airbnb’s models, it seems likely that Backyard will be a housing system that can be tailored to particular contexts rather than one, perfect, prefabricated home. And you don’t need an Airbnb host to buy into the initiative. Their goal is to see Backyard get as big as Airbnb itself.
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