Airbnb launches Backyard, an innovative home design initiative

Airbnb launches Backyard, an innovative home design initiative

Airbnb has already changed the world of hospitality, temporary accommodation and travel; now the innovative California-based company is throwing its hat in the ring of housing design too (following up on more recent developments in the field, by the likes, for example of Yves Behar). The company’s co-founder, Joe Gebbia, has just announced the launch of Backyard, an initiative that aims to explore the world of homes in a unique way. 

Created through Samara, Airbnb’s design studio and think tank, Backyard is set to look at how homes can be designed, built and shared in new and exciting ways. Using elements such as state-of-the-art techniques and smart-home technologies, the initiative will also draw on the company’s wide-ranging insights into the domestic environment and its use, from the Airbnb community. 


A prototype under wraps, the designs will be drawing on forward-thinking elements such as sophisticated manufacturing techniques and smart-home technologies. Photography: Courtesy of Samara

However this is not in fact a vehicle solely for designing and fabricating homes. ‘Backyard isn’t a house; it’s an initiative to rethink the home. Homes are complex, and Samara is taking a broad approach – not just designing one thing, but a system that can do many things. Backyard is currently in the prototyping phase’, say the design team.

‘We began with a simple question’, says Gebbia. ‘What does a home that is designed and built for sharing actually look and feel like? The answer is not simple at all. Other questions quickly emerged. 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? It’s a tall order.’

Backyard has been quietly in development for a while and its exciting results are already starting to take shape; the team is in the process of prototyping ideas and ‘is looking to offer test units as soon as autumn 2019’, says Samara. ‘[We will be] putting just enough into the world to learn how Backyard works in a variety of scenarios.’ Stay tuned. §

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