Airbnb invests in urban planning

Its new division, Samara, is using design to bring tourism to remote regions.

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Airbnb is branching out from connecting people with temporary residences to actually begin designing those residences. The home-sharing brand is the first Western company to take part in House Vision, an exhibition in Tokyo on the future of the home.

Airbnb’s new design division, Samara, which launched this week, worked with Japanese architect Go Hasegawa to create theĀ Yoshino-Sugi Cedar House. The building, made with materials from the cedar forests around Yoshina, in the Nara prefecture (where the the building will stay after the exhibition), will double as a local community centre and residence for Airbnb visitors.

The idea for the project came from an Airbnb host in Tsuyama Okayama, Co.Design reported, who managed to attract visitors to the small city and enlisted her neighbours to serve as unofficial guides, creating a tourism market from nothing.

Once the “Yoshino-Sugi Cedar House” is trucked to Yoshino in October, Airbnb will track its success and gauge whether the model can be applied to jumpstart other local economies with aging populations.

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Airbnb housing