Airbnb is always looking for new ways to extend its business model, and its latest idea is to move far beyond the rental space industry.
Now, the company is announcing a new venture called “Backyard” that will involve designing and building homes. Joe Gebbia, one of the cofounders of Airbnb said it is “an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes.”
The idea is to use smart home technologies and sophisticated manufacturing techniques such as green building materials and prefabricated dwellings and combine it with Airbnb’s experience from the vacation rental industry. The company wants to “reimagine the design of homes”, Gebbia said in an interview with Fast Company. He added there’s a “moral imperative” to make sure the homes are well designed and responsive to the changing needs of their owners and occupants.
For the latest venture Airbnb has brought together a team of industrial engineers, architects, roboticists and mechanical and hardware engineers, as well as policy experts and others.
Gebbia said he wants to “rethink the home”, adding that homes are “complex, and we’re taking a broad approach, not just designing one thing, but a system that can do many things.”
Apart from that the company is quite vague about exactly what it’s building, but Gebbia said the spaces would be “sharable”. They also be easily reconfigurable to occupants’ different needs, and some could also provide for co-living arrangements.
The first Backyard test units are expected to become available as soon as the fall of 2019.