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Airbnb scraps contest for $100,000 cabins

Futuro weegee espoo image by j p kärnä
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Airbnb has abandoned its international competition for a series of ‘creative, unusual and unique’ holiday cabins

Launched in March, before the announcement of lockdown measures across Europe and the United States, the contest sought 10 teams to each design, deliver and host a ‘one-of-a kind’ $100,000 (£81,000) structure to provide overnight accommodation for customers of the online lettings platform.

In a statement, Airbnb said it was ‘pausing’ the Unique Airbnb Fund and that the competition could be relaunched next year.

It said: ‘In light of the developing news around Covid-19, we thought long and hard about the best way to prioritise entrants’ health and safety, as well as supporting the ability to comply with the various local shelter in place and social distancing rules imposed around the world.

‘While we will continue to examine the global feasibility of carrying out the efforts of the Unique Airbnb Fund, we are pausing the Unique Airbnb Fund at this time and are hopeful we’ll be able to reopen entries in 2021.’

The online holiday accommodation platform, founded 12 years ago, is currently offering refunds for all bookings made before 15 March for check-ins up to 15 June and has witnessed a significant drop in revenue following the introduction of lockdown measures and travel restrictions in response to Covid-19.

Applications to the Unique Airbnb Fund were due to be judged by Airbnb ‘superhost’ Kristie Wolfe, the actor and singer Billy Porter, and the Netherlands-based practice MVRDV. Participants were required to own the land for their proposal and have an existing Airbnb property requiring renovation, have an improvement project in progress or have a refurbishment concept which could bring a new letting space on to the digital marketplace.

Concepts were required to be ‘one-of-a kind’, have a surprising shape or style, and harness environmentally conscious and sustainable elements. Proposals could be inspired by everyday and recognisable objects, and could feature an interior which reflected the exterior appearance.

The winning teams, originally planned to be selected by 15 May, would have received a first payment of $33,334 (£27,000) by 15 June to complete their thematic development. The next payment of $33,333 was planned to be made by 15 August once participants demonstrated the completion of their ‘exterior and interior blueprint and/or structural design’.

A final payment of $33,333 would have been transferred once the winning teams provided ‘receipts, video, photos and explanation’ demonstrating the project’s exterior and interior completion. This sum would have been paid by 15 October.

Submissions were to be judged equally on creativity, feasibility, sustainability – including the ‘incorporation of environmentally sustainable attributes and consideration of offsetting environmental concerns’ – and social good. 

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