Kezikeng Main Street

Kezikeng New Community 柯子坑新社區

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.

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.

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.

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 Nántóu 南投, Changhua 彰化, Yúnlín 雲林, Tainan 台南, and Kaohsiung 高雄 before returning to Taichung 台中. I had no specific objective apart from visiting more places I had encountered in ongoing research and stopping to check out anything interesting along the way.

  1. Taiwan Summer Road Trip 2017: Taichung to Nantou
  2. Dongping Tobacco Barn 東平菸樓
  3. Puli Tuberculosis Sanatorium 埔里肺結核療養所
  4. Kezikeng New Community 柯子坑新社區
  5. Nanyun Gas Station 南雲加油站
  6. Jiuqiong Village Tobacco Barn 九芎村菸樓
  7. Yixin Vocational High School 益新工商職業學校
  8. Postcards From Ershui 二水明信片
  9. Ershui Assembly Hall 二水公會堂
  10. Xizhou Theater 溪州戲院
  11. Xiluo Bridge 西螺大橋
  12. Postcards From Xiluo 西螺明信片
  13. Xiluo Yisheng Theater 西螺一生戲院
  14. Beigang Theater 北港劇場
  15. Liujiao Brick Kiln 六腳磚窯
  16. Shuangxikou Brick Kiln 雙溪口磚窯
  17. Hsin Kang Theater 新港戲院
  18. Dalin Xinxing Theater 大林新興戲院
  19. Lingxiao Temple 凌霄殿

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