The Ruins of the Aduana Building

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Ominous skies over the hollow shell of the Aduana Building just outside the walls of Intramuros in Manila.

The Aduana Building, also known as the Intendencia, is located just outside the walls of Intramuros, the historic center of Spanish colonial . Originally built as a customs house in the 1820s, it has undergone several cycles of destruction and renewal starting in 1863, when the building was almost completely destroyed by the same strong earthquake that leveled much of the old city. Rebuilt in the mid-1870s, it served various government functions—office of the National Archives, first home of the Philippines Senate, and again the Bureau of Customs—before it was ravaged during the initial and final bombing campaigns of World War II. After reconstruction it again served as the offices of different government agencies before it was finally following a devastating fire in 1979. Restoration plans have been floated since the 1990s but as of late 2015, when I wandered by, the Aduana Building remains in ruin.

Fenyuan Town Hall 芬園庄役場

Fenyuan’s abandoned town hall from Japanese times.

Fenyuan Town Hall 芬園庄役場 is another example of neglected architecture in . Built in 1935, this modest building was the administrative center of the village of , located on the eastern edge of back when it was part of Taichū Prefecture 臺中州. It survived the war and remained in use until 1994 when a newer town hall was built down the street. Art Deco flourishes and the rust-colored emblem over the entrance give Fenyuan’s old town hall a distinctive look. Nowadays it is derelict—but it seems likely that it will be restored and opened to the public some day.

Xizhou Telecom Bureau 溪州原電信局

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Someone has turned the former Xizhou Telecom Bureau into a nursery.

This week I visited the small town of in southern to locate the eponymous Xizhou Theater 溪州戲院. I found no way into the theater but made a serendipitous discovery while walking around the block in search of another access point. Across the street I noticed the utilitarian outline of the former Xizhou Telecom Bureau 溪州原電信局, a modest building that once housed a combined post office and service counter for the state phone company, then known as the Directorate General of Telecommunica­tions (DGT) 交通部電信總局. The sign above the entrance simply reads Diànxìnjú 電信局, or “telecommunications bureau”, which is all anyone needed to know in those days. Taiwan’s telecom monopoly was broken up in 1996 with the privatization of what became known as Chunghwa Telecom 中華電信. In the absence of any sort of historic information about this obscure abandoned office I’d guess it was built sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Wuri Police Station 烏日警察官吏派出所

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A sidelong view of the historic Japanese colonial era police station in Wuri.

Wuri Police Station 烏日警察官吏派出所 is a historic building dating back to the early 1930s. Located in , , it was built in a simple, subdued style with more of a nod toward Rationalism than the localized or Baroque Revival styles commonly seen in commercial and institutional of Shōwa period . After the station was decommissioned in the late 1960s it was used for residential purposes until it was ultimately for unknown reasons. Historic status was announced in 2004 and officially confirmed in 2013 but restoration efforts have been stuck in the planning stage since then. This makes the Wuri Police Station yet another example of a neglected heritage building in Taiwan at risk of natural and manmade disaster.

Second Taipei City Council Building 第二台北市議會大廈

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Outside the old Taipei City Council Building weeks before its ultimate destruction.

One of the more peculiar ruins I’ve seen in was a building immediately across from the Control Yuan 監察院, one of the five branches of government, on Zhōngxiào West Road 忠孝西路. It was inaugurated as the second home of the Taipei City Council 台北市議會 in 1964 after moving from nearby Zhongshan Hall 中山堂. In 1990 the city council relocated to its present base in and the building was converted into a police station before being completely abandoned in 2007. Despite this the building continued to be known as the Second Taipei City Council Building 第二台北市議會大廈.

Gyeongbokgung 경복궁

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Hyangwongjeong: a beautiful reconstruction.

Gyeongbokgung 경복궁 (Hanja: 景福宮) is a historic site in downtown , the site of an opulent palace built by the Joseon Dynasty. Few, if any, of the structures in the photographs below are original; the palace was more or less razed by the Japanese occupiers in the colonial period or during the Korean War. Nowadays it is a major tourist attraction and a curiously contrived window into traditional Korea.