Sidewalk Labs partnered with Nurun to conduct confirmatory research for the mixed-use, complete community the company is designing on Toronto’s waterfront.
Incorporating flexibility into the home
Following Sidewalk Labs’s exploratory research to generate hypotheses on the notion of flexible housing, Nurun’s research would either confirm or overturn these assumptions. The company’s vision seeks to better meet the needs of households by incorporating flexibility into the home: units that can grow or shrink and the ability to move between units in the same building/network.
Evaluating the demand
We used our expertise in human research and business, product, and service design to test and validate (or not) the desirability of this urban innovation project. The team researched user benefits, preferences, experience, and willingness to pay for these forms of flexibility to identify and characterize potential profiles. The goal was to establish:
- Who wants it
- Why do they want it
- To what extent are they willing to pay for it
Qualitative and quantitative research was conducted that consisted of 12 two-hour in-home interviews and an online survey of 800 participants. The findings from this work led us to build archetypes. Here are the four and what best describes each one:
- Freedom: Money as a liberator
- Belonging: Lifestyle as an identity
- Security: Space as protected territory
- Achievement: Home as a marker of achievement
Three elements were considered when defining the archetypes:
- Product design considerations → To identify a unique selling proposition
- Business considerations → To determine the potential of each archetype
- Marketing and communication considerations → To come up with a communication angle
Insights to serve decision-making
The team also provided actionable insights to help Sidewalk Labs in its decision-making. Some highlights included mapping the four archetypes (converge-and-diverge), establishing target life windows, how they compare in their willingness to pay, and the level of traction towards flexible housing.
Findings confirm the demand
We came to the conclusion that not only was there a demand for flexible housing, but two archetypes stood out from the rest: Freedom and Belonging. For Freedom, flexible housing eliminates the financial and technical complexities of moving from one place to another while for Belonging, it keeps them connected to their community regardless of their circumstances.
With Nurun’s synthesis in hand, Sidewalk Labs applied updates to its Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP). Operational modelling is currently underway to confirm flexible housing’s feasibility versus the needs and expectations of users. Business modelling will follow to confirm the concept’s viability.