Guanshan Zhonghua Theater 中華大戲院

Zhonghua Theater 中華大戲院 is an impressive KMT authoritarian era ruin in Guānshān 關山, a small town of approximately 8,800 in the idyllic Huadong Valley 花東縱谷 of Taiwan. With seating for 1,200 patrons it was the largest theater in Taitung 台東 when it opened in 1965, and it soon earned the title “northern tyrant” (beibatian 北霸天) for dominating the cinema industry at this end of the county. What explains the existence of such a huge theater in this remote, sparsely populated place? As with the more modest and folksy Wuzhou Theater 五洲戲院 in neighbouring Chíshàng 池上, an examination of regional socioeconomic history provides answers.

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Taiwan Motor Transport Maintenance Depot 台灣汽車客運公司機料廠

Shulin is a heavily industrialized district of approximately 185,000 on the southwestern periphery of Taipei 台北. Until recently it was home to one of the most well-known large-scale ruins in the metropolitan area: the former Taiwan Motor Transport Maintenance Depot 台灣汽車客運公司機料廠, more generally known as the Shulin Factory. This abandonment was far from secret—it was regularly used for photo and video production, airsoft and paintball games, flying drones, practicing graffiti and street art, and the occasional underground techno party. It was so popular, in fact, that it attracted several con artists who impersonated security guards and the property owner to charge a fee for usage of the site, occasionally extorting large sums from more professional operations, which eventually led to their arrest. As for the history of the site itself, Tobias at Only Forward has published an extremely thorough account of this ruin, and I don’t have very much to add apart from my own original photos from two separate visits to the now-vanished site.

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Dadu Plateau Anti-Airborne Fortifications 大肚台地反空降堡

Dadu Plateau 大肚台地 (also known as Dadu Mountain 大肚山) is a geographic feature of great strategic importance to the defense of central Taiwan. It overlooks the west coastal plain and occupies high ground on the far edge of the Taichung Basin 台中盆地, home to the majority of the population of Taichung 台中, the third most populous metropolitan area in the nation. The entire length of the plateau is peppered with military facilities from the massive Ching Chuan Kang Air Base 空軍清泉崗基地 in the north to Chenggong Ridge 成功嶺 down south. In between one will find a number of abandoned or disused bunkers, gun towers, and blockhouses. This post focuses on seven anti-airborne fortifications located in the central part of the plateau starting with the #7 Anti-Airborne Fort 七號反空降堡, my introduction to this cluster of ruins.

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Jiahe New Village 嘉禾新村

Jiahe New Village 嘉禾新村 is one of more than 800 military dependents’ villages (Chinese: juancun 眷村) built in Taiwan in the late 1940s and 1950s to provide provisional housing for KMT soldiers and their families fleeing from the Chinese Civil War. Around two million people crossed the Taiwan Strait from China from 1945 to 1949, bolstering an existing population of approximately seven million. More than 600,000 of these Chinese immigrants ended up in military villages like this one in Zhōngzhèng District 中正區, Taipei 台北, which was forcibly abandoned only a couple of years ago as part of a wave of urban renewal projects sweeping the nation.

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1933 Shanghai: Art Deco Abattoir

Gathered here are several photographs from a brief walk around 1933 Shanghai (上海1933老场坊), an unusual slaughterhouse in Hongkou, part of the former Shanghai International Settlement. Designed by a British architect in an arguably Art Deco style and built with imported cement in 1933, it was recently renovated and transformed into a hub for the creative industries. Seeing as how this is Shànghǎi 上海, several high-quality English language articles have already been published about it, so I will hereby refer you to Atlas Obscura, Shanghai Art Deco, Mas Context, Randomwire, and La Casa Park for more information and informed analysis.

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The Interface Between Cells of the City

Last weekend I was wandering around the streets of Pǔlǐ 埔里, a town of approximately 80,000 located in a small basin in central Nántóu 南投, when I noticed this abscess in the urban landscape. Steel rods extend from a rough concrete party wall, the naked interface between cells in the body of the city. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before in other places—but never before have I captured this feature of Taiwanese construction methods quite like this.

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Abode of Law

Pictured here is a notorious ruin at the eastern terminus of Qingnian Road 青年路 in Tainan 台南. It was formerly used as staff quarters for the Tainan branch of the Taiwan High Court but the property has been idle since at least 2010. Its prime location, obvious state of abandonment, and ease of entry has made it popular with graffiti artists, curious university students, and other thrill-seekers, but I never got around to scoping out the interior despite living down the street for a few months. In any case, I appreciate the institutional inelegance of the brutal concrete architecture on display here. If you’d like to know more try this news story, this article, or search for Tainan High Court Staff Quarters 台南高等法院員工宿舍.

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