Airbnb Aging-in-Place Disruptor

A man and woman laying in bed smiling for the camera.

We can’t approach Backyard solely from the point of view of design, architecture, urbanism, civic ordinance, sustainable materiality or manufacturing. We have to grapple with the whole of it, which makes it one of the most vexing, complex, and interconnected conditions we deal with every day.

~ Joe Gebbia Airbnb

Airbnb May Design Your Next Forver-Home
I was reading a piece on the website Digital Trends by Clayton Moore with the intriguing title: With ‘Backyard,’ Airbnb could change how houses are designed and built. The author describes how the hotel-industry-disruptor, Airbnb is going a step further and not just turning homes into motels–but will be designing/building them too.
Airbnb founder Joe Gebbia announced through a press release and a wide-ranging interview with Fast Company that his company’s next trick will be a venture called “Backyard,” whose purpose is designing and building houses – more than likely in strange new ways that we’ve never really seen before. “With Backyard, we’re using the same lens through which Airbnb was envisioned – the potential of space – and applying it more broadly to architecture and construction,” Gebbia said. The initiative falls under the umbrella of Samara, Airbnb’s futuristic research and development division. The company describes the project as “an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes. “If Backyard’s houses are designed to be shared from the ground up, they must be built to be flexible to the needs of different occupants, meaning spaces that are adaptable and can be reconfigured to each person’s changing needs. The models already appear to feature modular floor plans, which would definitely lend themselves to modern prefabricated housing technology, and even interchangeable roofs. Smart, adaptable, and affordable would be a neat hat trick. That is when you have to ask yourself what homes around the world are shared more than any other structure, up to and including hotels? Those would be homes that are meant to be listed on Airbnb. In terms of vertical integration as well as diversification of its business, it’s kind of genius. Airbnb almost instantly becomes both a producer and a marketplace for selling homes and putting them on their own digital platform. Still, others think Backyard might be a means to take advantage of California’s new Accessory Dwelling regulations, which permit tiny homes in places like backyards.According to Moore, Samara has already begun to assemble architects, designers, and engineers to build porotypes for public testing in 2019.

“Backyard investigates how buildings could utilize sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies and gains vast insight from the Airbnb community to thoughtfully respond to changing owner or occupant needs over time,” 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.”

Backyard Applied to Aging in Place

The potential for malleable-Flex spaces that can be employed an Airbnb/s for “retired” boomers aging in place has a potential upside never seen before:

  1. A source of Income
  2. A source of Social Connections
  3. Environmental Press and Meaning Making
  4. Affordable Housing

Airbnb has revolutionized the hotel/motel industry and now has the potential to be an aging-in-place disruptor by providing real solutions to challenges that plague aging populations. This is thinking outside the box at its best!


Airbnb Samara

Digital Trends article found here:

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