Airbnb, the global house-sharing and -booking platform, has announced an initiative called Backyard, aiming to build and sell the prototype of future houses.
The initiative was created by Samara, a future concept division founded in 2016 and led by Airbnb chief product officer and co-founder Joe Gebbia.
“Backyard is an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes,” said Airbnb in a statement. In other words, the company wants to start distributing prototype buildings in 2019.
The new initiative will include sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies and insights from the Airbnb community’s needs. The houses could be accessory dwelling units, green buildings, standalone houses or multi-unit complexes. The goal is to design homes for several living contexts rather than one prefabricated home.
Backyard’s another goal is to minimize the environmental footprint of newly-built houses. The company quotes data from the United Nations, saying that the world will see an increase of 2.5 trillion more square feet of buildings worldwide by 2060. Current buildings meanwhile generate a level of carbon dioxide that can damage our planet.
Everyone can buy the homes designed by Backyard, whether they are Airbnb hosts or not. The company will start testing the prototype in 2019, while the sales schedule has not been revealed.
This is not the first time that Airbnb builds physical houses. The company built its first living space “Yoshino Cedar house” back in 2016 in a small town of Yoshino, Japan. It was designed to be a community center and rental property to promote tourism in the town. By March 2018, the house has had 346 guest visits and generated US$25,000 in booking sales.
While Airbnb began as a digital business and platform, the company’s new initiative expands its business to other fields, establishing market presence in the real estate industry.