The urban lifestyle may be where the majority of youth and opportunities are right now, but that doesn't mean that certain suburban sensibilities aren't just as compelling in different parts of the world--at least in terms of design, anyway.
Orange County, China was perhaps the first of these "imposturbs" I heard about a few years ago. This quirky gated community about 45 minutes north of Beijing was built in 2001 by a trio of design firms from the Southern California suburb. Although it's pretty much a straight-up simulacra of a real place, the neighborhood actually sold all of its 143 units. Some even went so far as to get a Hummer, even though these gas guzzlers are becoming increasingly rare in the US:
Shanghai also followed suit in 2001 with a project called One City, Nine Towns, intended to be a collection of nine elaborately-designed replica towns from distant places such as England, Spain, Sweden, the U.S., the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Germany and Italy. Unlike China's Orange County, these towns are mainly empty of residents but are often used for recreational visits and photoshoots:
But the first of these borderline-bizarre developments may be "Beverly Hills," Egypt. This residential and commercial landscape was actually built in the late 1990s on Cairo's outskirts (probably foreshadowing the epic overdevelopment of regional neighbor Dubai in coming years):
But this displaced simulacra isn't happening only in China and the Middle East, obviously. Take this photo of a traditional style home in "Chinese Village," located in Coral Gables, Florida:
Although these are all pretty brazen and unique projects, there is still something endearing, quirky, and almost quaint about them. Perhaps it's because the influence of foreign ways of life is obviously seeping everywhere around the globe, and people are demanding to live in contexts that cater to their stylistic fantasies. I wonder how far the residents of these developments actually take their "adopted" lifestyles, if this goes beyond simple houses and cars and extend to what they eat, how they entertain themselves and dress, etc.
Soft power is often attributed as a tool for hegemonies but I think this subtler level of influence by random quiet suburbs and towns around the world indicate easy potential for identities of much smaller scale and scope.