Beneath the Skylight on Basement Level 1

Stanton Club 飛宏象山國際聯誼中心

The Stanton Club 飛宏象山國際會議聯誼中心 was an exclusive business and recreation facility located in the foothills of the Nangang Mountains 南港山系 in Xìnyì District 信義區, Taipei 台北. Although details are scant, it was in operation from the late 1990s until approximately 2005, when it went out of business for reasons unknown. Most of the club is underground—and with floorspace or around 3,500 píng, a Taiwanese unit of measurement corresponding to approximately 12,000 m2, it was a rather large place. Perhaps owing to its relatively accessible location this became one of the most notorious ruins in Taipei for awhile, even appearing on television at times. The space was finally leased and renovated in 2018 so I am now at liberty to share some photos from several forays made to the site in previous years.

Stanton Club exterior in 2016. From the street it isn’t at all obvious how extensive it is.

The Internet Archive maintains a copy of the original Stanton Club homepage if you’re curious. From this we can learn that the club featured indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzi and sauna rooms, a fitness center, a banquet hall and convention center, an auditorium and movie theater, and plenty more. Not much remained of these facilities when I went for a look in 2016—but there were still a few surprises waiting deep in the underground.

A closer look at the broken sign over the entrance to the Stanton Club.
What is this sign by the door?
Looking through the back window.
Peering inside the Stanton Club. This scene is visible from a ventilation shaft behind the entrance.

From the surface it isn’t at all obvious what can be found below. Ventilation shafts scattered around the area provide a clue—and if you closely examine the skylight behind the main clubhouse entrance you might find a gap in the structure affording an unobstructed glimpse into the dark and murky depths. But the most interesting sight at ground level is undoubtedly the abandoned pool, an uncommon sight in hyper-dense Taipei.

The abandoned outdoor swimming pool at the Stanton Club with Taipei 101 in the distance.
The pool even had a bar!
Just inside the building from the pool. This section has been completely stripped along with most of the rest of this level.
Wandering around the old Stanton Club feels a bit like playing a first-person shooter…
Next to the entrance, one level down. Light streams in from the skylight above, nourishing algal scum on the floor.
Beneath the skylight on basement level 1.

Most of the old Stanton Club was empty, cavernous space, with bare concrete walls on all sides and pipes running overhead. It was an eerie experience descending the spiral staircase to the very bottom, with only the occasional noise from a passing car to disturb this otherwise tranquil domain. The absolute darkness, absence of sound, and largely featureless interior made it feel like something out of a dream.

We’re going deeper underground.
Descending into the depths.
Fake plastic trees on the lowest level.
Indoor swimming lanes, now bone dry.

At one point the deathly silence was shattered by sounds from the world above. It could have been footsteps, or perhaps someone was dragging a heavy object across the floor. Whatever it was sounded like it was coming from within the building—but it was exceedingly difficult to identify the agent with everything reverberating in the subterranean gloom. For a while I figured an alarm might have been tripped and perhaps a security guard from the neighbouring residential tower was wandering around the first level in search of intruders. Time wore on and this notion became increasingly unlikely—there was no pattern, as one would expect from someone undertaking a methodical search.

Traces of luxury in the unseen depths beneath the Stanton Club.
Saving lost time.
Showered in darkness.
Broken elevator to nowhere.
Unseen infrastructure in the lightless depths.

The source of these strange sounds turned out to be a pack of wild dogs resting on the skylights. The sounds echoing throughout the underground depths were those of dogs rustling, scratching, repositioning themselves, and generally doing what dogs do. It was quite a relief to know that nobody was looking for us, but this introduced another dilemma: how could we depart without incurring the territorial wrath of the dogs above? Luckily there was a means of exit out of sight of the pack of dogs resting on the skylight.

Wild dogs in the sky.
A strange sight looking up from the subterranean depths.

The Stanton Club is occasionally mentioned in blogs about local history. This part of Taipei is a former coal mining area, and the clubhouse is adjacent to the Yuánxìng Coal Mine 源興煤礦, which dates back to the Japanese colonial era. None of the original pits are accessible but you’ll find an old U-shaped air-raid shelter with twin entrances in the mountainside just behind the Stanton Club.

A direct view of the entrance to the Stanton Club circa 2016. All of this graffiti is gone now.

For more from the Stanton Club have a look at this video walkthrough from 2013. You’ll also find it featured in the fifth episode of The Haunted Rooms 入住請敲門, some kind of reality TV show from Hong Kong.

Finally, I should expand on something mentioned in the opening paragraph: this site is no longer abandoned, and the new tenants might not appreciate visitors. You have been warned!

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1 Comment

  1. That weird sign – I spotted the same one outside an ornate residence in Taichung a couple of years back – after getting lost down many rabbit holes, it looks like it’s a religious design that adorns the ‘Bumpa’ section of certain stupas in Mongolia. The topmost symbol is part of the Soyombo and the interlocking lines beneath are probably an ornamental script, with actual Soyombo script on the left, although I’m not sure exactly what it says.

    The final picture on this blog post is the best image I can find of it in context. Possibly the club’s former owner had some connection with that part of the world, and stuck this plaque outside for good fortune (not that it seems to have worked).

    Great photos as always though – That shot of the dogs from underneath is oddly surreal!

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