Airbnb’s next Move to Stay Ahead of the Competition Involves Urban Planning

Now this is a surprising move by Airbnb. Meet “Samara”, an innovation lab and design studio aimed at creating hardware and software that supports “exploring new attitudes towards sharing and trust”. One of their first projects delves into the realm of urban planning by constructing a communal space in a small town in Japan. It’s a unique opportunity to expand their business, staying true to their core business that has helped to connect 60,000,000+ travellers in over 191-plus countries with unique accommodations and experiences. 

For what it’s worth, branching into what us urban planners like to call creating a “sense of place”, isn’t a bad pivot. My only critique of Samara would be that I’d have wanted it to be done more from the grassroots level so there’s a lot of ownership from communities.

Airbnb’s design for a community centre to be placed in rural Japan | Source: Fast Company

That aside, I think it could work as a platform to boost alternative tourism and overall economic creation in smaller districts/villages/towns, particularly because their area of focus is on communities that have suffered economically from young people moving away to bigger cities and leaving the elderly behind . I’ll be curious to see how this initiative by Airbnb plays out.

The community centre features a 16 ft long table for shared meals and meetings | Source: The Verge

You can read the story in detail and get an exclusive look here from Fast Company. Read More –>

Also, Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Joe Gebbia introduces Samara here. Read More –>

Let me know your thoughts on Airbnb’s latest move by leaving a comment below.

Make Renewable Energy While the Sun Shines!

Solar pane atop bus stop in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Solar panel atop bus stop in Bridgetown, Barbados.

At my core, I’m an urban planner through and through and when I saw this bus stop whilst walking through the streets of Christ Church, Barbados, I was extremely and pleasantly surprised all at once.

A solar panel atop a bus stop!! How cool is that?! I couldn’t resist or wait to take a snapshot of this model. I thought at first, “maybe its a pilot project”, but to my relief, I looked around and noticed there was a panel on every bus stop along the street. Amazing!

To my friends in North America and Europe and maybe some parts of Asian this might not be such a big deal, but in the Caribbean seeing renewable energy being harvested in this manor is refreshing.

There are some days when I wonder why I ever became an urban planner, but unexpected encounters like these remind me that maybe it was fate. There’s absolutely no reason why one structure should not be used for dual or multi-roles or purposes.

A bus stop is designed to offer shelter to pedestrians, but it spends 365 days sitting still in the sunlight, it makes sense to harvest solar power. The future looks a little “brighter”, but I just wish Jamaica would catch up.

More and more I’m convinced that if you want to have a true world perspective then you must travel the world. The more I’m fortunate to do so, is the more I’m “enlightened” (last word play).

Capture the moments that give you hope and learn from them. Everything in life is not always a chance encounter, but destiny.

Fun fact: There’s a contest to name this bus stop now on. If that doesn’t promote interactivity, I don’t know what else will! Love urban design.