Around the world in Airbnb 999 Brannan

SAN FRANCISCO – From hospitality to transportation, it is undeniable that the sharing economy is one of exciting growth and here to stay. ‘Less is more’ is taking on a whole meaning where less is produced but more is consumed in terms of services. Endemic to this systemic shift is the seemingly endless expansion of Airbnb with its newly opened workspace 999 Brannan. Designed by Airbnb’s Environments Team with WRNS Studio as the architecture firm of record, the 14,000-sq-m office in San Francisco houses over 1,000 staff.

The in-house design team stripped the original space down to its bare bones, removing every non-structural element of the building and fundamentally changing the experience, circulation and material palette of the interior. ‘The challenge with this project was not to reinvent but to reveal the essential qualities of the building by emphasizing and articulating its core framework,’ explains the Environments Team. The original floor-to-ceiling glass-brick façade was maintained to filter in daylight.

999 Brannan incorporates Airbnb Trips as an organizing principle in its interior design – a feature offered on the global hospitality platform since 2016 which allows users of Airbnb to book bespoke city experiences designed and led by local insiders. Here, each floor is assigned to a different featured city – Buenos Aires, Kyoto, Jaipur and Amsterdam – with the café, colour, pattern and material corresponding to the local culture. For example, one floor features Amsterdam’s flower market and hip Jordaan neighbourhood.

The meeting rooms that are spread throughout the building also take inspiration from existing Airbnb listings around the world. The building boasts custom furniture and curated spaces within different ‘neighbourhoods’ that can hold up to 50 people each. The different areas have large communal tables and standing desks, phone rooms, personal storage and meeting rooms. The meeting rooms are all adaptable, with a garage door mechanism to open and close a room divider.

Not only a physical act of removing a building’s past interior, 999 Brannan is a prime example of how workspace design is being stripped down to its core. There is no need to plaster the logo in every corner of an office space, as its design should be the crystallization of the company’s ethos – ‘Belong Anywhere,’ in Airbnb’s case.

‘Branding of a space is often approached quite literally, “where do we put the logo, how big?” However, we believe that offices should communicate to employees why they work and not where they work. Airbnb connects individuals from around the world through unique accommodations and experiences. It is a link to adventure, opportunity and global citizenship and we wanted to embody this in our offices,’ the team concludes.

text Leina Godin

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