Samara Brings Home Sharing Into The Future
AirB&B gets all reflective and talks about togetherness.
Unless you’ve been living under some rent controlled rock in Jersey City, chances are you’ve heard that Airbnb has become the world’s largest provider of crash-pads with over 1.2 million homes listed for short-term rentals world-wide. But like an attractive twenty-something on Tinder, Airbnb is getting bored with their apartment sharing success and looking for a shiny new venture on which to focus.
Enter the new idea-generating-design-studio, ‘Samara’ launched by Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk. Samara is currently a non-profit, communal house designing, building and sharing company- with hopes of expanding its platform globally. A visit to their website will reveal a great deal of rather confounding copy about empathy and compassion that, while uplifting, seem to have little to do with their business plan. But, after a little digging, one can find that Airbnb says it is not using Samara to build hotels under the disguise of communal houses, as some nay-sayers claim. But rather, the goal of Samara is to expand the Airbnb paradigm through services that encompass Airbnb’s original home-sharing vision. So, how will this happen?
Samara intends on incorporating the use of experts in architecture, software engineering, economics and product design to develop new ways in which people can explore more rural areas of the world and boost the local economy. People will sign up to hang out in a communal house built by Samara with the help of the local community as support, and become a relevant part of the local fabric – both socially and economically… if only for a week at a time.
Mr. Gebbia says, “Samara will give us even more space to apply what we’ve learned over the last eight years and create new services for connection, commerce, and social change within the expanding Airbnb community. It is a space for these values to continue to evolve beyond travel and hospitality and into our daily lives.” So how is Samara planning on accomplishing these lofty goals?
Like all things cute and hip- Japan will be ground zero for Samara ‘s first venture The Yoshino Cedar House. Tokyo based Architect Go Hasegawa collaborated with Samara on the project. The cedar communal house is located in Yoshino, a small rural village located in the Nara district of Japan. The house will double as a community center with rentable bedrooms upstairs, a living room, and a kitchen with a long 16-foot dining table so locals and tourists can break bread together.
The house is built on land the town donated and will be managed by the community itself. Airbnb claims the proceeds , “will be used to strengthen the cultural legacy and future of the town.” With many of Japan’s rural areas suffering financially as the young people move into the cities, the hopes are to give a boost to tourism in these less than popular areas. Yoshino is a prime spot for the experiment as there’s a near-by forest that’s popular among travelers. Samara’s plan is that the bookings for The Yoshino Cedar House, will bring more revenue into the local economy while introducing the home-sharing concept to locals.
But Yoshino House is only the beginning. Samara’s current mission is to build hope and revenue for other suffering rural communities across the globe and more Samara properties are already in the works. According to FastCoDesigns.com, “After this project, Airbnb will look to scale it to other declining small towns across the world. The idea is that Airbnb could become a force not only in sharing homes, but in urban planning. Since we started, we’ve gotten calls from people in the U.K., China, Korea, Spain, France, and Italy, all with the same problem.”
By focusing on bolstering local economies and exploring untouched regions where it’s challenging for tourists to visit, Airbnb’s Samara might just be the ticket to ensure that Airbnb will be around way longer than grandma’s rent stabilized apartment—possibly even longer than New York City cockroaches.
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