The Huātán Hoffmann Kiln 花壇八卦窯 is located near the base of the Bāguà Mountain Range 八卦山脈 in Huātán 花壇, a rural township just south of Changhua City 彰化市. During the Japanese colonial era this part of Taiwan specialized in brick and ceramic production but this particular kiln is not so old. After the arrival of the KMT the local brick industry continued to expand and this particular kiln was built in 1964.
The Japanese introduced several kinds of brick and ceramic kilns to Taiwan at the beginning of colonial rule—have a look at the former Tángróng Brick Factory 唐榮磚窯廠 in Kaohsiung 高雄 for some great examples—but it doesn’t sound as if the more efficient Hoffmann kiln entered into common use until the KMT authoritarian era and the Taiwan economic miracle of the 1960s. Although it is formally translated as Huòfūmàn Kiln 霍夫曼窯 the Taiwanese use the term Bāguà Kiln 八卦窯, a reference to the ubiquitous octagonal symbol of Taoist cosmology. Initially I thought this name might have something to do with this kiln’s location at the base of the Bāguàshān Range 八卦山脈 but this is entirely coincidental.
According to this blogger the kiln was decommissioned in 1989. A number of other brick kilns in the area have been restored—you can even dine in a kiln should you have the perverse desire to do so—but this one has been left to the elements despite its proximity to a nearby park. There is no entrance fee or barrier to entry (this being Taiwan) but a sign indicates that it is private property and structurally unsound so proceed with caution. Finding it is a simple matter of watching for the broken chimney while cruising down Highway 137.
Nary a word in English seems to have been uttered about this place but you can read more about it (and the hilarious tourist activities at the more sanitized attractions nearby) in the Chinese language blogosphere here, here, here, and here. I will have more to say about the brick industry of Taiwan in future posts.