Kezikeng New Community 柯子坑新社區

Disused public property on the outskirts of Zhushan in Nantou County.

Located on the outskirts of Zhushan, Kēzikēng New Community 柯子坑新社區 is one of several public housing projects constructed in the aftermath of the 921 Earthquake that devastated central Taiwan 台灣 in 1999. Despite providing much-needed relief for those who lost their homes in the disaster there were few buyers—and today the complex remains mostly empty and disused. Built with government funds, this poorly-conceived housing project has become yet another example of what Taiwanese call mosquito halls, a term popularized by artist Yao Jui-chung 姚瑞中 and a team of student researchers known as Lost Society Document. Since 2010 they have published six volumes of Mirage, a series of works identifying more than 800 disused public properties all around the country. Some of their work was translated into English—which is how I found out about this particular locale, which I briefly visited in the summer of 2017.

The main thoroughfare running through the community.

From a distance Kezikeng New Community looks like a decent place to live, though the location is somewhat remote from the nearest town and there are few amenities in the immediate area. There’s a good chance it was built here simply because the government already owned the land, which is adjacent to the former Zhushan Sugar Factory 竹山糖廠 (see here for more info). Decades ago this site was occupied by what I would assume (from aerial photographs) were warehouses—and the sugar railway network ran along the main road just outside the front gates of this community.

There seems to be some half-hearted attempt at fixing broken homes.

Apart from the obscure location it also sounds as if these townhouses, despite being billed as “affordable housing”, were too expensive. I’m no expert on the Taiwanese real estate market but 2 million NT and up does seem like a lot for a townhouse in the middle of nowhere. Repeated attempts by the state to auction idle units do not appear to have been met with an enthusiastic response—but the government is still sinking money into the project, renovating some of the more dilapidated units as recently as 2016.

Crumbling townhouses in the countryside, waiting for the next disaster.
Jagged remnants of the front of one of the townhouses.
Slipping into the back alley between townhouse rows.
The gatehouse seems to have been empty for quite some time.
Kezikeng Community from the rooftop of an abandoned townhouse.

Ultimately what we have here is yet another example of Taiwan’s construction-industrial state in action, spending taxpayers’ money building stuff nobody really needs—not at this price point, anyway. Thanks to the work of Lost Society Document these projects now face increasing scrutiny by the media and the public but there’s still much more to be done to address mismanagement of public funds in Taiwan.

Throughout the summer of 2017 I undertook a series of scooter trips around central and southern Taiwan, eventually visiting Nantou, Changhua 彰化, Yúnlín 雲林, Tainan 台南, and Kaohsiung 高雄 before returning to Taichung 台中.

  1. Dongping Tobacco Barn 東平菸樓
  2. Kezikeng New Community 柯子坑新社區
  3. Nanyun Gas Station 南雲加油站
  4. Jiuqiong Village Tobacco Barn 九芎村菸樓
  5. Yixin Vocational High School 益新工商職業學校
  6. Postcards From Ershui 二水明信片
  7. Ershui Assembly Hall 二水公會堂
  8. Xizhou Theater 溪州戲院
  9. Xiluo Bridge 西螺大橋
  10. Postcards From Xiluo 西螺明信片
  11. Xiluo Yisheng Theater 西螺一生戲院
  12. Beigang Theater 北港劇場
  13. Liujiao Brick Kiln 六腳磚窯
  14. Shuangxikou Brick Kiln 雙溪口磚窯
  15. Hsin Kang Theater 新港戲院
  16. Dalin Xinxing Theater 大林新興戲院
  17. Lingxiao Temple 凌霄殿

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