Airbnb’s next project is building houses
Backyard indicates that Airbnb is attempting to diversify its company and expand from the digital sphere by investing in the built environment.
Airbnb recently announced Backyard, an ambitious but so far vague new project from Samara. As the company’s co-founder, Joe Gebbia, puts it, Backyard is “an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes.” Airbnb wants to use sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies, and its experience in the vacation rental industry to “reimagine the design of homes.”
In order to accomplish this task, Airbnb says it has assembled a team that “includes industrial designers, interaction designers, architects, roboticists, mechanical and hardware engineers, material specialists and policy experts.”
There’s no indication what the Backyard prototype—reportedly in development—will look like. Photos from the Samara website show a tarp, tents with construction equipment, and (rather bizarrely) a llama. Fast Company, which interviewed Gebbia, surmised that the buildings could be prefabricated dwellings, standalone houses, or multi-unit complexes. But Gebbia told Fast Company, “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.”
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