Huatan Hoffmann Kiln 花壇八卦窯

The chimney at Huatan Hoffmann Kiln
The chimney at Huatan Hoffmann Kiln.

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.

A brick kiln in Huatan
The far side of the brick kiln under dusky skies.

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.

Broken brick kiln by the roadside in Huatan
The abandoned and overgrown brick kiln on a hazy grey day.
Inside the brick kiln in Huatan Township
Inside the brick kiln in Huatan Township.
Stuck in the oven with me
Where bricks are born
Where bricks were born.
Propping up the brick kiln in Huatan Township
Propping up the brick kiln to prevent collapse.
The entrance to the Huatan Brick Kiln
The entrance to the Huatan Hoffmann Kiln is fashionably overgrown.

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.

Looking out the entrance to the Huatan Brick Kiln
Looking out from the entrance to the space at the roadside.
An old house outside the brick kiln in Huatan Township
An old house outside the brick kiln in Huatan Township. Presumably this was once the office or something. The other buildings on the property are all traditional courtyard homes.

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.