Life in a Big Box

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http://As%20megablocks%20--%20groupings%20of%20high-rise%20apartment%20towers%20--%20become%20the%20norm%20across%20Chinese%20cities,%20they%20are%20reshaping%20the%20way%20people%20%20live%20and%20consume.%20Gone%20are%20the%20courtyards%20and%20small%20alleys%20of%20cities%20like%20Beijing,%20%20where%20people%20largely%20lived%20on%20the%20streets%20and%20interacted%20in%20closely%20knit%20%20communities.%20Megablocks%20encourage%20social%20atomization%20in%20their%20individual,%20Western-style%20apartments.%20Unlike%20early%20communist-era%20apartment%20blocks%20where%20families%20cooked%20in%20%20%20communal%20kitchens%20and%20even%20in%20the%20hallway,%20the%20new%20megablocks%20have%20%20%20indoor%20kitchens%20that%20promote%20a%20new%20range%20of%20nesting%20habitats.%20%20%20%20%20%20Global%20commerce%20has%20taken%20notice%20of%20the%20shifting%20lifestyle%20patterns%20of%20%20hundreds%20of%20millions%20of%20people.%20With%20China's%20burgeoning%20consumer%20market%20in%20its%20%20sights,%20Ikea%20opened%20a%2042,000-square-meter%20flagship%20store%20in%20Beijing%20in%202006;%20at%20%20the%20time,%20it%20was%20Ikea's%20second-largest%20outlet%20in%20the%20world.%20A%20huge%20success,%20it's%20now%20a%20magnet%20for%20Chinese%20%20consumers.%20Shoppers%20pack%20the%20aisles%20to%20peruse%20a%20seemingly%20endless%20parade%20of%20%20products.%20Visitors%20wander%20through%20the%20faux%20kitchens,%20bedrooms,%20living%20rooms,%20and%20%20offices,%20sometimes%20spending%20a%20leisurely%20afternoon%20lounging%20on%20the%20plush%20%20furniture%20with%20no%20real%20intention%20of%20making%20a%20purchase.%20%20%20%20%20%20Above,%20a%20Chinese%20man%20steps%20into%20a%20spacious%20%20Ikea%20kitchen.

As megablocks -- groupings of high-rise apartment towers -- become the norm across Chinese cities, they are reshaping the way people live and consume. Gone are the courtyards and small alleys of cities like Beijing, where people largely lived on the streets and interacted in closely knit communities. Megablocks encourage social atomization in their individual, Western-style apartments. Unlike early communist-era apartment blocks where families cooked in communal kitchens and even in the hallway, the new megablocks have indoor kitchens that promote a new range of nesting habitats.

Global commerce has taken notice of the shifting lifestyle patterns of hundreds of millions of people. With China's burgeoning consumer market in its sights, Ikea opened a 42,000-square-meter flagship store in Beijing in 2006; at the time, it was Ikea's second-largest outlet in the world. A huge success, it's now a magnet for Chinese consumers. Shoppers pack the aisles to peruse a seemingly endless parade of products. Visitors wander through the faux kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, and offices, sometimes spending a leisurely afternoon lounging on the plush furniture with no real intention of making a purchase.

Above, a Chinese man steps into a spacious Ikea kitchen.

http:// %20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20A%20couple%20shares%20a%20snack.%20%20Ikea's%20flagship%20store%20in%20Beijing%20received%20more%20than%206%20million%20visitors%20in%202011,%20the%20most%20of%20any%20Ikea%20store%20in%20the%20world.

 

A couple shares a snack. Ikea's flagship store in Beijing received more than 6 million visitors in 2011, the most of any Ikea store in the world.

http://Two%20shoppers%20take%20a%20break%20on%20a%20sofa.%20Although%20%20catering%20to%20nonpaying%20customers%20may%20appear%20like%20wasted%20effort,%20Ikea%20tolerates%20%20their%20presence.

Two shoppers take a break on a sofa. Although catering to nonpaying customers may appear like wasted effort, Ikea tolerates their presence.

http://While%20checking%20out%20the%20living%20room,%20one%20man%20reads%20the%20paper.%20%20%20Even%20though%20patrons%20like%20those%20in%20the%20photo%20might%20not%20buy%20anything%20now,%20some%20will%20in%20the%20future.

While checking out the living room, one man reads the paper. Even though patrons like those in the photo might not buy anything now, some will in the future.

http://Parents%20watch%20their%20son%20draw%20Chinese%20characters%20on%20a%20small%20%20blackboard%20in%20a%20child's%20room. 

Parents watch their son draw Chinese characters on a small blackboard in a child's room. 

http://A%20young%20Chinese%20boy%20plays%20on%20a%20fake%20computer.

A young Chinese boy plays on a fake computer.

http://Behind%20a%20stock%20photograph%20of%20the%20Eiffel%20Tower,%20a%20Chinese%20family%20dotes%20on%20a%20baby. 

Behind a stock photograph of the Eiffel Tower, a Chinese family dotes on a baby. 

http://Two%20shoppers%20investigate%20a%20breakfast%20nook.

Two shoppers investigate a breakfast nook.

http://A%20man%20dozes%20on%20a%20pink%20%20sofa.

A man dozes on a pink sofa.

http://Wrapped%20in%20a%20blue%20blanket,%20a%20woman%20sleeps%20on%20the%20showroom%20floor.

Wrapped in a blue blanket, a woman sleeps on the showroom floor.

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