Along the coast of Northeastern Taiwan remains a relic of a past that is slowly crumbling. A beachside community developed in the 1970's as the future of holiday retreats, now almost completely abandoned as if the inhabitants vanished into thin air. This is the UFO village of Taiwan.
Barely noticeable from the passing highway is this now dilapidated community mostly inhabited by moss and sea birds that was once the picture of progress. There is still some mystery as to what exactly happened here. The houses are a rip-off of Finnish architect Matti Suuronen's Futuro and Venturo houses he designed in the late 1960's as a pre-fabricated, easy to move, unit that could be used for ski chalets. Less than a hundred were built, but for various reasons, like vandalism and banks not financing them, the idea failed. Less than 10 real Venturo houses exist today, but this is the weird part - there are more than 10 in the community in Wanli. Apparently, after Suuronen went out of business someone borrowed the idea to develop this community using similar designs. These prefab houses were made using lots of plastic and one reason why it may have gone belly up is that in the 70's oil prices skyrocketed. Perhaps it was the lore of the community being haunted like a similar spot in Sanzhi that has since been torn down. Perhaps the weather at the coast was too much for these plastic houses, there are no definitive answers there.
Currently, the community is a metaphor for the changes of the past several decades. This community was made when the general consensus was positive for the future. Before dystopian nightmares cluttered the theaters and the collective consciousness. Their derelict husks a metaphor of our view of their future. We can view them as naive and optimistic at a time when Worlds Fairs were still newsworthy and we hadn't seen Mad Max yet. To walk through this community it feels nostalgic of the past's view of the future. It feels like a theme-park after the apocalypse, where dreams themselves have gone to waste away amongst the rubble. The furniture still present from it's display days of old, still trying to sell you a future that never was. No one bothered to empty the shells of their contents. They just left it. As is.
There are less than 30 houses in this community that sit along three streets just off the beachfront. Most of the houses are of the Venturo-style with a few once bright now faded yellow UFO Futuro-style houses hovering around collecting moss colonies. Several had walls that have collapsed and there were even a few plots sitting empty, forever waiting for their pre-fab futures to be laid at rest atop them. There is broken glass surrounding many of them as the elements and/or vandals have smashed the windows in. Some of the items left in the houses are decidedly newer than the builds themselves, evidence that these houses have gotten some use over the years by somebody.
It appears that squatters and curious foreigners are the most common guests, but there remains a few brave souls still. From what I could tell, there were at least three that were still inhabited, at least for the summer months. One man was pruning a tree outside his UFO. In the front yard were small rows of meticulously planted vegetables. He was the only person in the whole community besides me, a curious foreigner. However, there were two Venturo houses that were clearly kept up. One full of surfboards, now used as a giant storage closet waiting for the summer months. Another looked as if it was being used for its original purpose of being a summer retreat. It was not summer when I was there, however. A light rain constantly falling as I darted in and out of the elements to take this whole place in was my experience. The beach nearby is also covered in trash adding to the whole The Jetsons meet The Walking Dead vibe of the place.
If you really like the kitsch or the abandoned places type of obscure travel destinations, then I highly recommend taking the 30 minute car ride outside of Taipei for this hidden gem. For more info on the place and directions click the link below and watch the video for a peek inside one of these houses.