Suburban Planet

Adoption of American lifestyles abroad and a downturn in the U.S. economy are contributing to American design firms exporting suburbia around the world.

"A growing number of architects and urban planners are finding work overseas as the domestic real estate slump persists. An emerging affluent class abroad is drawn to suburbs with U.S. names that mimic the American ideal - down to the master bathroom and tree-lined sidewalk.

The trend started during the early 1990s U.S. housing downturn and has intensified in recent years. Firms that ventured abroad since that time say doing so has helped them weather economic slowdowns in certain markets.

It has also created opportunities to design on a grander and more creative scale. At times, architects are creating huge master-planned communities encompassing a mix of single-family homes with high rises, parks and shopping centers.

Curiously, some of the developments overseas look and sound a lot like California suburbs marketed to affluent customers who have spent time living in the U.S. or attracted to an American suburban lifestyle."

Full Story: Architects Create American-Style Suburbs Overseas



Michael Lewyn's picture

"tree-lined sidewalks"

Come to think of it, it would be nice if American suburbs had those (let alone Chinese ones!)

Mike Lydon's picture

Design vs. regulations

Are we to blame American suburban designers, or American suburban land use regulations?

Me thinks it is a combination of both.

Architects create American Style Suburbs Overseas

The sad reality is that while too many Americans it would appear, do not recognise the reality that American developers and builders are the best in the world - those within the emerging economies certainly do.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for policymakers within the Bubble Markets of the United States to wake up and allow sufficient land supply with appropriate infrastructure financing - so that Americans involved with residential construction can get work in America as well.

Or are Americans simply going to persist in destroying their residential construction sector with excessive regulation, so that it is weakened to the extent the auto industry has been?

Hugh Pavletich
Performance Urban Planning
New Zealand

Excessive regulation? Not so

In fact they have been resisting it for the last 30 years and look where it got them.

The demise of US auto makers has nothing to do with regulation and everything to do with the fact that they have been producing cars that were not fitting of the post cheap oil era. Nobody likes regulation, but I'd bet the US auto makers would be in much better shape had they decided to develop cars that had better miles per gallon ratings.

Likewise, the home construction sector would be in better shape had they not saturated the market - especially with homes not suitable or compatible with current lifestyle trends. There was plenty of land supplied and plenty of development with few restrictions. Just ask Phoenix or Vegas.

Plenty of land

We DO have a sufficient land supply - you just have to look inward rather than outward. We've built up and abandoned our central cities, and we're now realizing that we can't keep moving outward. If you look at where the market is, it is no longer OUT - it's IN. Take advantage of the underused or undeveloped land within the city, because that's where we're headed now. At the same time, it may make sense to these developing countries to suburbanize, but I only hope that they can look at us with a critical eye and not just stomp along our same footsteps and find themselves stuck in the same hole we are now - because at that point, on that scale, it won't be an urban problem, it will be a global problem.

What you've said about regulatory barriers to the construction industry is true - we've got to allow companies to build homes at affordable costs. But that conversation is not a conversation about opening up more land for development, it's about reworking the regulations that have become barriers to REdevelopment.

^^^ This was meant to be a

^^^ This was meant to be a reply to Mr. Pavletich.

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.

City Map Posters are in!

Available in 9 different cities.
Habitat blockitecture tower

Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.