The pending "burst" of the Chinese real estate bubble has only begun to slow the seemingly perpetual production and subsequent desertification of new housing properties and projects. Some sixty million apartments are estimated to lay empty within Chinese borders, forming entire "ghost cities" of sprawling geometric configurations, untouched infrastructure, and generic signature buildings stranded in China's hinterlands. The projects were largely government endeavors, public works meant to boost output, with the matter of their actual use and habitation being almost secondary. So while the ghost cities were not designed and built for immediate vacancy and obsolescence, the possibility (eventuality?) of these vacant high-rise blocs being filled someday seems unlikely and somehow beside the point.
Scientists in New Mexico have drawn up plans for a different kind of ghost town, one that will never be inhabited, but has, instead, been purposefully designed to be empty of human occupants. The billion-dollar city, to be built in Lea County, will function as a vast testing site for new technologies and their integration within a (semi)urban environment. Planners have christened the city the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation, which sounds a lot like the Stepford-like towns constructed after the midcentury to test nuclear blasts. Yet, the project is on a wholly different scale than these precedents, with an area of nearly 15 square miles, all gridded with city streets, housing, a church (?), and even a couple of towers. Self-driving cars will patrol the avenues, while parks will be wired with "next-generation" wireless networks. Construction is set to begin on June 30. Ghosts, plan accordingly.