Airbnb Enters Home Building Business
Airbnb, the popular service for home sharing and short-term vacation rentals announced its plan to enter the home building business and start building homes designed for sharing. The new project, called Samara: Backyard, will be headed by Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia and begin building in 2019. The goal of Samara is to prototype a new way for homes to be “designed, built, and shared” that better caters to Airbnb’s service.
The template for today’s single-family home predates the home sharing movement. Thus, most single-family homes are not conducive to shared occupancy. In a press release, Gebbia posed some of the questions that Samara hopes to answer, “Can a home respond to the needs of many inhabitants over a long period of time? Can it support and reflect the tremendous diversity of human experience? Can it keep up with the rate at which the world changes? Can we accomplish this without filling landfills with needless waste?”
Since last year, Samara has employed the help of industrial designers, interaction designers, architects, roboticists, mechanical and hardware engineers, material specialists, and policy experts. Using insight aggregated from Airbnb users and hosts and other researchers, Samara will experiment with sustainable materials, smart home design, and other ways to repurpose underutilized space.
Whether or not Airbnb initiates a full-force entry into home building is yet to be determined. When homeowners build homes that are more easily converted into short-term rentals, they may be less likely to sell their homes when they move, and instead maintain ownership to earn rental income on the property. Some housing professionals worry about the impact this move would have on long-term housing.
Gebbia has a positive outlook about the new project claiming it is more of a social responsibility than a business opportunity. He stated, “The way buildings are made is outdated and generates a tremendous amount of waste.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.”