Open Innovation Builds a House with Big Data

Published May-28-17

An innovative data-driven home building concept - a house built by the people for the people.

Hemnet and Tham & Videgård, Sweden

The Story:

Open Innovation Builds a House with Big Data Sweden is a country that has wholeheartedly embraced the sharing economy, engaging in numerous crowdsourcing and open innovation initiatives on a national scale. This has included putting the country’s twitter account in the hands of individuals and using an online collaborative platform to create an innovative video game.

How Big Data Built a New Home

Another fascinating open innovation project is the Hemnet Home, which was built with the input of two million Swedes. Also known as the House of Clicks, it was designed and constructed based on the crowdsourced data input of visitors to Hemnet, a popular online property portal.

Everybody has a different idea of what they want their dream home to be, whether it's a rural cottage, a swanky pad in the city or a mansion. But there are some features that are on most people's property wish lists, such as hardwood floors, balconies and fireplaces, for example. So, Hemnet decided to put all the pieces together to see what the most sought after or desirable home would look like.

The project collected and analyzed 200 million clicks by two million users for 86,000 properties. Among the features that were looked at were floor space, location and room configuration. Then all this digital data was transformed into bricks and mortar so to speak and the crowdsourced home was built.

"The house is in short based on two parts," described the architects Tham & Videgård. "A direct interpretation of Big Data statistics from all the Hemnet users gave an average value that determined the measurable properties of the home including size, price, number of rooms, bathrooms and floors."

To this was added two of the most popular ideas about what the Swedish house should be: a wooden red cottage and a white functionalist box.

The Finished Design

The result of crunching all the numbers was a 1.5-story building with 1,115 square feet of space and a red façade. The appearance of the exterior bears more than a passing resemblance to a shipping container, but it is actually crafted from wood according to traditional Swedish carpentry techniques.

Other features include three bedrooms, a roof terrace and a large double height kitchen (spacious kitchens are favorites among Swedes). What’s more, big windows flood the spacious interior with daylight. Overall, the crowdsourced home is a neat example of data-driven design.

Future of House Building?

When news of the finished open innovation project was first published in 2015, commentators speculated that such a clever use of big data may become the foundation of house building projects in the future. That remains to be seen, but the Hemnet Home did strike an immediate chord with the public. Within a few weeks of the announcement, more than 600 people from around the world had signed up to buy the house when it is mass produced and available on the market. The value of this first rush of orders was $200 million.

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