With an aim to become a company that also offers houses, not just housing, Airbnb is venturing in the creation of prototypes of homes. Through Samara, its future-oriented product design team, and the Backyard initiative, new ideas are tested, new ways of living and experiencing the sheltered space are explored.
Following the pioneering footsteps of Airbnb, and challenging conventional thinking, Backyard is questioning the potential of space and trying to find concrete answers to apply to architecture and construction. In fact, “Backyard investigates how buildings could utilize sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies, and vast insight from the Airbnb community to thoughtfully respond to changing owner or occupant needs over time”.
For Backyard to have a stake in the future of the home, we have to look comprehensively at the way people live, in the past and in the present, from microns to meters, […] The diverse knowledge and perspective on our team gives us a clear advantage over industry players and would-be disruptors. It’s been amazing to see the team pick up momentum and grow in order to bring this radical project to life. We’re always looking for new spirited, creative, and thoughtful people, from all kinds of backgrounds, to join us. -- Joe Gebbia, cofounder of Airbnb
Samara just hired William O’Brien Jr., a tenured professor of architecture from MIT. The purpose of this new employment is to further develop Backyard, its homebuilding effort, “an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes”. O’Brien Jr. joins the team by way of MIT’s Department of Architecture and the prize-winning architectural design studio WOJR. At Samara, he will partner with ex-Apple industrial designer Miklu Silvanto to lead an interdisciplinary product design team reporting to founder Joe Gebbia.
In architecture today, there is a range of agendas that span from those propelled by an interest in the role of technology in the future of building to those committed to the appropriation of forms of the past, […] Backyard is such an interesting hybrid because it gives these perspectives equal footing, relying on lessons learned from history while filtering them through the lens of technology. Learning that architectural design is valued so much at Samara was a sign that something special is happening here. We’re at the beginning of something new. I’m thrilled.-- William O’Brien Jr., professor of architecture from MIT.