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Two Israeli architects bring Airbnb-style event space service to Chicago

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In March, Splacer expanded into Chicago after being successful in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami. The online marketplace allows users to list, discover and book unconventional venues for events on an hourly basis.

What Airbnb did with homes, Splacer is trying to do with commercial real estate.

In March, Splacer expanded into Chicago after being successful in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami. The online marketplace allows users to list, discover and book unconventional venues for events on an hourly basis.

The startup was co-founded by two architects, Lihi Gerstner and Adi Biran, who wanted to develop a way for people to fully take advantage of city spaces. The women envisioned breweries being rented for pop-up shops, industrial lofts getting booked for photo shoots, and dinner parties hosted at art galleries.

Gerstner and Biran first recognized a need for platform like Splacer when they were teaching students in Tel Aviv. They asked their class to look at how they each used space in their daily lives. After the assignment, the two women realized how much space goes unused in most cities throughout a day.

Splacer allows gallery owners to rent out their space when it might go used during the evening, or a restaurant owner could list its property for a daytime event. Gerstner used to work in the fashion industry where production companies and photographers were always looking for the next undiscovered location so the need for Splacer was clear.

“We saw no supply and a ton of demand. Everyone is always looking for unknown spaces and want to find something new and with Splacer they can do that,” Lihi Gerstner told RE Journals.

During their research, the women tried to understand how they could redesign the urban landscape so that it could be used to its fullest potential. They were inspired by their experiences with communal settlements in Israel, called kibbutzim. Usually on farms, people on kibbutzim live, work, study and cook together as a community.

Influenced by their Israeli culture and architectural background, the women took a dive into the sharing economy aiming to help small business owners but also created a more efficient way to live in a city.

“As architects, we love to build. But there are so many spaces that are not being used. It’s much greener and more sustainable to use what we have,” Gerstner said.

In Chicago, there are just over 100 spaces to choose from but the list is growing to catch up with New York which has over 2,000 listings. A quick search of Chicago’s listings reveal properties like a loft with a rooftop farm, a Spanish-style restaurant and a converted Wicker Park art gallery. Prices per hour vary from cozy loft meeting rooms for $18 to ultra-modern, Gold Coast lounges for $1,500.