Throughout the past several years, we began to share more personal belongings online; it started with music, stories and pictures on social media. Additionally, we started to exchange more and more items through sites such as Marktplaats. The emergence of the sharing economy affects a growing number of economic sectors today; we share our houses on Airbnb, tools on Peerby, energy on Vandebron or Powerpeers, knowledge on Konnektid, food on Thuisafgehaald, rides on Blablacar, and cars and parking spaces on platforms such as Snappcar, MyWheels and Mobypark. With these platforms, the Dutch gain access to each other’s belongings and services. In the Netherlands, one in five people use online sharing platforms (including Airbnb and Marktplaats.nl). However, sharing is not a new phenomenon, as people used to share their belongings long before the emergence of the sharing economy. Nowadays, we do not merely share our belongings with friends, family or other relatives but also with people we have never met. Research has shown that the percentage of Dutch people who are willing to share their belongings with strangers has grown from 10% to over 30% in the last 3 years.
Companies are also changing their business models to reap the benefits of the sharing economy. A good example is the music industry, in which streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music enabled a transition from consumers owning physical albums to unlimited access to music. In the mobility sector, platforms such as Car2Go, Greenwheels and BMW’s Drivenow provide on demand cars. Together, sharing platforms and new business models make it more attractive to rent instead of own. The sharing economy is a fast-growing sector [I would say an innovative exchange model]; the large commercial sharing platforms have created a billion-dollar industry. In 2015, PricewaterhouseCoopers calculated that the global revenue in the five largest markets of the sharing economy (travel, car sharing, finance, personnel services, and music/video streaming) was $15 milliard. They expect this amount to increase to $335 milliard in 2025 (Source).
The sharing economy will inevitably influence how we live. In theory, the potential for sharing in our direct environment is high, but in practice the threshold to share is too high for a large amount of people. Although it does not apply to everyone, the boundaries between private, semi-private and public areas, as well as belongings, seem to be shifting. A good example is the online house sharing platform Airbnb; this company was founded in 2008 and currently offers over 2 million accommodations in more than 190 countries in 34,000 cities. Airbnb has already sold over 60 million bookings.
Last year, BPD surveyed 12,000 people, specifically with the goal of examining the influence of the sharing economy on housing. The results revealed a positive attitude towards sharing, however, respondents indicate that their actual use of the sharing economy is limited. From the 14 new housing projects BPD proposed, respondents preferred sharing a bike parking space, lockers for postal packages and groceries, and a workspace with tools. All respondents agree that a cooking facility is not attractive to share. Additionally, the results revealed that spaces inside their house are a ‘no-go’ for sharing. With the exception of 10% to a maximum of 20% of the respondents, depending on the target audience, people are too fond of their privacy. The resistance to sharing inside the house decreases when an alternative housing option is created, specifically where the house is separated in different parts that can be rented out individually. Respondents also indicated that they think a separate part of the house with its own entrance and facilities would be pleasant.
A shared car would be an alternative to owning a car for one in five respondents who are in search of a house with a parking place. From the respondents that indicated that a shared car would be an alternative and the respondents that indicated they do not need a parking spot, 40% to 50% indicated they would use a shared car if their future housing complex facilitated this option.
The current attitude towards the sharing economy will continue to develop, and the actual use of the sharing economy will increase, which will influence how people want to live. To be sure, it will be a challenging task for urban developers to satisfy ‘the housing needs of tomorrow’ in real estate projects, which is exactly what BPD is working on. The projects Holon House and APPartments in Amsterdam reflect ways in which BPD is already experimenting with the sharing economy. Specifically in the living tower Holon House, where compact and collective living were central elements in the design. With 22 levels, the building is 70 metres high. The construction of the building is disconnected from the housing walls, so spaces can easily be attached to each other. This creates flexibility into how the floors can be arranged. This way, not only are very compact one-room apartments of 29 m2 and 41 m2available, but also apartments up to 115 m2 are an option. As a consequence, Holon House provides housing options for starters, singles, the elderly, and also for families and working from home. By implementing principles of the sharing economy, the complex provides additional features that would not be available to an individual. Examples are a guest house, shared car, music room, library, small cinema and a sauna. The ground floor has public workplaces, parking places, a coffee bar and a terrace. The roof is designed as a communal garden and is open to all residents. To help these plans come to fruition, BPD is speaking with the municipality of Amsterdam regarding potential locations.
BPD is developing a second project based on sharing economy principles in the Sportheldenbuurt on Zeeburgereiland. The project APPartments consists of 14 dwellings and 110 apartments (from 45 m² to 240 m²). The most striking aspect of this project is the plinth of 750 m². Development Manager Edward Zevenbergen: "In order to make Zeeburgereiland an attractive residential area, a traditional plinth filling is no longer sufficient. Living needs are changing. People want to live in places where people live, work and do some shopping. A shopping mall full of spaces with ‘for rent’ signs is not attractive. That's why we started to look for new opportunities. In this project, we combine different sharing principles and concepts that you haven’t seen anywhere else. The project includes:
Share & connect: “APPartments promotes access over ownership. The facilities on the plinth are available for all resident in Zeeburgereiland. That’s what makes this project special”, explains Edward Zevenbergen.
Coffee & host: “The arrangements in some households are ideal for a bed and breakfast. The rules concerning rentals are documented in the VvE regulations. Obviously, the regulations of the municipality of Amsterdam are taken into account. The checking in and out of guest is done by the hosts. In addition to picking-up your post, you can also order a coffee or lunch at the bar.”
Work & connect: “Zeeburgereiland has a lot of self-employed people. Every now and then, these people need a working space. Entrepreneurs use co-work spaces to share their knowledge and connect with other people. Therefore, working spaces are available, in which people can have a cup of coffee in the bar or use a meeting room for serious business.”
Meet & do: “Spaces which are used to work in the daytime can be used for other purposes at night. For example, for private dining or yoga.”
Pop-up market: “Although people are increasingly buying their groceries online, people still want shops to buy special products such as artisan bread, tasty cheese or olives. Many of these shops have only a few peak hours. Therefore, a pop-up market will offer small units which are rented out in time blocks of three or four hours. This way you get the market stalls impression. The espresso place will make place for comfort food in the afternoon.”
Share: ”‘Space in Amsterdam is scarce and houses are getting smaller. As a consequence, people have less space to own and storage stuff and will want to borrow stuff more often. BPD offers a space in which stuff can be shared.”
Mobility: “City residents want access to mobility but do not necessarily have to own a car. With an app, residents will be provided with access to four electrical share BMW’s. If possible, the energy will be generated on their own roofs. At the beginning, the site will have eighty parking spots for private cars but the amount of shared cars is expected to grow.’
Notably, the different sharing economy principles can reinforce each other. To facilitate renting on Airbnb, some apartments have two entrances. The people who rent the apartment are also allowed to use the sharing facilities, such as the shared cars in the building.
The marriage of urban development and the sharing economy is largely undiscovered. The challenge for innovative urban developers is to experiment while closely listening to the needs of future residents. The potential for housing in the future is obvious; lower prices for more access to mobility, tools, sport, living, and workspaces. The key is efficient use of facilities. A critical factor is the living experience. In addition to the project APPartments, BPD launched the site sharedlivingenvironment.nl to kick-start the marriage of real estate with the sharing economy. Urban developers, municipalities and companies can present and exchange their ideas on this site. By sharing ideas and experiences we can determine what future cities should look like. This way, the foundation of the sharing city can be laid: a city in which the sharing economy enables a high level of liveability
*By Pieter van de Glind, Edward Zevenbergen and Sander Klaver (Pieter van de Glind is the co-founder of shareNL, Edward Zevenbergen is the development manager at BPD and Sander Klaver is the market analyst at BPD.)