On The Rooftop at Taichung First Square 台中第一廣場

Updated:
Taichung’s city skyline looking east toward the mountains.

About a month ago I made a brief stop in to gather more material for a future post in my series. While I was there I couldn’t resist taking a quick look at First Square 第一廣場 (alternately Square One, First Plaza, or First Shopping Building), which I’ve heard some foreigners refer to as “the Filipino disco building by the train station”. Sure enough, First Square is a massive entertainment complex and commercial space much like the abandoned Qiaoyou Building 喬友大廈 in neighbouring only about two or three times as large. There are at least six towering blocks arranged around the central plaza and I only conducted brief surveys of two of them. I may return someday to gather more data—but in the meantime here’s some surprising, cool, and perhaps even scary shots from the rooftop.

Looking north across Taichung Basin.

Unlike a lot of the places I look into First Square isn’t completely abandoned—but it’s getting there. Many of the KTVs are still doing business, several offices I walked by seemed occupied, and there were a few apartments on the higher levels with shoes out front. That being said, both elevators I tried had some floors blocked out—and a quick check down a dark stairwell suggested that nothing was drawing power on those levels. I neglected to bring a torch so I headed up those same stairwells instead—and was surprised to find a luscious grassland sprawling across the rooftop between two of the towers.

An artificial grassland on top of the First Plaza building in Taichung.

What I find most interesting about this photograph is how illusory it is. From the grass you’d naturally expect this to have been shot at ground level as there aren’t any obvious visual cues suggesting otherwise. But no, this scene is high above the streets of Taichung! I’ve now seen other photos of this same rooftop prairie (lóudǐng cǎoyuán 樓頂草原 in Chinese) and it seems it is not usually so lush. Come to think of it, wasn’t Taiwan in the midst of a historic drought when this was shot? Most curious.

A number of cats live on the rooftop. It’s an entire ecosystem separate from ground level.

I was also delighted to find a small population of feral cats living on top of the building. This isn’t all that surprising—especially since local residents provide dishes with food and water—but it makes me wonder what other creatures have made their home up here. Birds, no doubt, but I am most interested in animals that ordinarily dwell at the surface. Ecologically speaking, this rooftop grassland is an island in the sky.

Exposure therapy for my fear of heights.

May as well take a dangerous looking photo while I’m up here, right? It may not seem like it but I actually have a mild fear of heights. Less so now than when I was younger but it’s something I am still working to overcome. Anyhow, I felt like standing close to the edge while I was up there but don’t plan on making a habit of it.

Looking up at Taichung’s First Plaza from street level.
Another photo for context; here’s the southwestern side of First Plaza from the building across the street.

For context I have included two more photos of the building—one from down below and another from the ruins of another entertainment complex across the way, which I plan to profile here on this blog some day soon.

2 Responses

  1. Hey! Im heading to taichung in mid december. Any idea if this place is accessible at night? Or how dangerous it will be?

  2. Eddie: I would imagine it’s accessible at all hours… and dangerous? Not really. The rooftop will probably be empty and if you keep your wits about you on the ground floor you shouldn’t have any trouble.

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