Innovation in Housing Workshop no. 1: San Francisco | 3 June 2019



On June 3, 2019, we assembled an inter-disciplinary group of professionals in San Francisco including architects, planners, civic leaders, developers, non-profit housing directors, academics and startup founders to discuss the core problems challenging the production of housing in the Bay Area.

The forum then explored opportunities for innovation in financing, design, construction, policy and lifestyles that could have a major impact in housing and related industries.


Video of Workshop Presentations


Innovation in Housing Workshop: Gallery

Innovation in Housing Workshop: Takeaways

Key Problems Identified

  • Resistance to new materials and methods
  • Regulations that stymie innovation
  • Fear of density
  • Lack of economic incentive
  • Lack of public education on housing
  • High material and labor costs
  • Market often controlled by institutional investors
  • Long permitting processes
  • NIMBYism
  • Unpredictability in market
  • Lack of transparency in industry
  • Untrained workforce in minority and women
  • Impact fees


A few common themes arose amongst most participants, including:

  • Inflexibility in terms of design, product and policy.
  • Failure of the industry to adjust to changing lifestyles.
  • A lack of innovative responses to lingering problems.


The material above propelled the workshop teams to start thinking of new game-changing and disruptive business models and designs that could generate more housing supply, a typology of housing that people desire, and more efficient and affordable products.


Workshop Presentations

Multi-Generational home design

Compensation fund to offset externalities caused to residents (NIMBY mitigation)

Municipal tax relief and permits to support ADU’s and home maintenance and reinvestment

Purpose-built Guest Units for subdivision communities

Matching platform for businesses in mixed-use developments

Flexible home design for rapid internal changes to maximise options for income generation

Pre-approved Pre-Fab multi-family housing units



Innovation in Housing Workshop: Important links and articles