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The second Taipei City Council building

Institutional

People’s Park in the Sky

A foggy People’s Park In The Sky
A palace in the sky, shrouded in mist.

People’s Park In The Sky is a peculiar attraction located about 60 kilometers south of Manila in Tagaytay, a popular leisure destination in the province of Cavite in the Philippines. Perched on top of Mount Sungay at an elevation of 709 meters, the highest point on the northern rim of the immense Taal Caldera, it was originally planned to be a palace suitable for state visits during the kleptocratic reign of Ferdinand Marcos. Construction began in 1979 with a drastic leveling of the mountaintop, which previously reached 759 meters, but ground to a halt with increasing civic unrest and the cancellation of Ronald Reagan’s state visit in 1983. Following the People Power Revolution of 1986 the unfinished mansion was transformed into a public park and monument to the greed, corruption, and excess of the Marcos era.

Ershui Assembly Hall 二水公會堂

The derelict assembly hall in Ershui
The derelict public assembly hall in the heart of Ershui.

Ershui Assembly Hall 二水公會堂 is located in Èrshuǐ 二水, a small town at the very southern edge of Changhua 彰化, on the border with both Yúnlín 雲林 (to the south) and Nantou (to the east). It is one of dozens of similar assembly halls built all around Taiwan 台灣 to accommodate large public gatherings during the Japanese colonial era. This particular example was built in 1930 and is one of three remaining in Changhua 彰化. The other two—in Changhua City 彰化市 and Lukang 鹿港—are both fully restored, designated historic properties, and open to the public, but the Ershui Assembly Hall, the smallest of the three, has been derelict for years. From what I’ve read in this excellent post the landlord and local government have been locked in a long-running legal dispute, complicating any efforts at preservation.

The Ruins of the Aduana Building

A Spanish colonial building on the edge of Intramuros
Ominous skies over the hollow shell of the Aduana Building just outside the walls of Intramuros in Manila.

The Aduana Building, also known as the Intendencia, is located just outside the walls of Intramuros, the historic center of Spanish colonial Manila. Originally built as a customs house in the 1820s, it has undergone several cycles of destruction and renewal starting in 1863, when the building was almost completely destroyed by the same strong earthquake that leveled much of the old city. Rebuilt in the mid-1870s, it served various government functions—office of the National Archives, first home of the Philippines Senate, and again the Bureau of Customs—before it was ravaged during the initial and final bombing campaigns of World War II. After reconstruction it again served as the offices of different government agencies before it was finally abandoned following a devastating fire in 1979. Restoration plans have been floated since the 1990s but as of late 2015, when I wandered by, the Aduana Building remains in ruin.

Fenyuan Town Hall 芬園庄役場

Fenyuan Town Hall 芬園庄役場
Fenyuan’s abandoned town hall from Japanese times.

Fenyuan Town Hall 芬園庄役場 is another example of neglected Japanese colonial era architecture in Taiwan 台灣. Built in 1935, this modest building was the administrative center of the village of Fēnyuán 芬園, located on the eastern edge of Changhua 彰化 back when it was part of Taichū Prefecture 臺中州. It survived the war and remained in use until 1994 when a newer town hall was built down the street. Art Deco flourishes and the rust-colored emblem over the entrance give Fenyuan’s old town hall a distinctive look. Nowadays it is derelict—but it seems likely that it will be restored and opened to the public some day.

Xizhou Telecom Bureau 溪州原電信局

The former Xizhou Telecom Bureau 溪州原電信局
Someone has turned the former Xizhou Telecom Bureau into a nursery.

This week I visited the small town of Xīzhōu 溪州 in southern Changhua 彰化 to locate the eponymous Xizhou Theater 溪州戲院. I found no way into the theater but made a serendipitous discovery while walking around the block in search of another access point. Across the street I noticed the utilitarian outline of the former Xizhou Telecom Bureau 溪州原電信局, a modest building that once housed a combined post office and service counter for the state phone company, then known as the Directorate General of Telecommunica­tions (DGT) 交通部電信總局. The sign above the entrance simply reads Diànxìnjú 電信局, or “telecommunications bureau”, which is all anyone needed to know in those days. Taiwan’s telecom monopoly was broken up in 1996 with the privatization of what became known as Chunghwa Telecom 中華電信. In the absence of any sort of historic information about this obscure abandoned office I’d guess it was built sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Wuri Police Station 烏日警察官吏派出所

Wuri Police Station 烏日警察官吏派出所
A sidelong view of the historic Japanese colonial era police station in Wuri.

Wuri Police Station 烏日警察官吏派出所 is a historic Japanese colonial era building dating back to the early 1930s. Located in Wūrì 烏日, Taichung 台中, it was built in a simple, subdued style with more of a nod toward Rationalism than the localized Art Deco or Baroque Revival styles commonly seen in commercial and institutional architecture of Shōwa period Taiwan 台灣. After the station was decommissioned in the late 1960s it was used for residential purposes until it was ultimately abandoned for unknown reasons. Historic status was announced in 2004 and officially confirmed in 2013 but restoration efforts have been stuck in the planning stage since then. This makes the Wuri Police Station yet another example of a neglected heritage building in Taiwan at risk of natural and manmade disaster.

A System of Tubes

Snaking up the walls of Taichung
Snaking up the back walls of a hospital in central Taichung.

I captured these pipes snaking up the side of building in Taichung 台中 while circumambulating the Zhongying Recreational Building 中英育樂大樓 in search of another way to the forbidden upper levels. Since I just went to the trouble of cleaning up this photo for use on the cover for my latest house and techno mix, Heat Sync, I figured I may as well share it here as well. Now that I’ve looked into it this is actually the back of Cheng Ching General Hospital 澄清綜合醫院 (pinyin: Chéngqīng), which should explain why there’s so much going on here. At least it’s not a disorderly mess.

Peering Into a Sports Center in Hsinchu City

Peering into the former Hsinchu City Activity Center
A distant view of the formerly sheltered bleachers at the Hsinchu City Public Activity Center.

Today I made a brief stop in Hsinchu 新竹 while returning from Taichung 台中 to my current abode in Taipei 台北. One of my targets for this little stopover was the former Hsinchu City Public Activity Center 新竹市民眾活動中心, something I only found out about because I’ve been following the Taiwan Ruins Research 台灣廢墟研究 group. Somebody (and I regret not taking note of whom) posted several photos from within the old activity center in recent weeks, noting that the city was finally starting to do something about this old space, which has spent at least the better part of the last decade acting as a “temporary” parking lot.

Second Taipei City Council Building 第二台北市議會大廈

Taipei City Council Building
Outside the old Taipei City Council Building weeks before its ultimate destruction.

One of the more peculiar ruins I’ve seen in Taiwan 台灣 was a building immediately across from the Control Yuan 監察院, one of the five branches of government, on Zhōngxiào West Road 忠孝西路. It was inaugurated as the second home of the Taipei City Council 台北市議會 in 1964 after moving from nearby Zhongshan Hall 中山堂. In 1990 the city council relocated to its present base in Xìnyì District 信義區 and the building was converted into a police station before being completely abandoned in 2007. Despite this the building continued to be known as the Second Taipei City Council Building 第二台北市議會大廈.