The eerie streets of this abandoned beachside paradise still echo with the cries of surfers fighting against the strong coastal waves from the village’s bygone days as a hub of midcentury futurism.
The Futuro houses, designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, resemble whimsical flying saucers. The pre-fabricated plastic oddities were originally designed as ski chalets light enough to be airlifted onto any terrain, although the ones at Wanli swapped the adjustable UFO-style legs for tacky ’70s-era pebble-concrete staircases.
The UFO-shaped house closest to the entrance of the park boasts a fully functioning airplane-style door and windows; inside the small circular space are a sitting area, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.
Oval windows in oval structures evoke comparisons to classic UFOs. Nearby, squat rectangular homes with curved corners hint at a future imagined by the space age. But collapsed roofs, shattered windows, and sagging walls speak the truth of reality.
I’m on the north coast of Taiwan, an hour north of Taipei. This neighborhood of abandoned Futuro and Venturo houses has no official name, but it’s called by some the Wanli UFO Village.
It’s not hard to imagine this place new. Such potential, with cutting-edge architecture and the underlying promise of the techno-wondrous future. The curved lines of walls and windows, the modern building materials interspersed with stone and tile.
You can almost hear Burt Bacharach wafting from some console stereo.
See cigarettes dangling over Arne Jacobsen chairs. Out front, tail-fins and bullet taillights. It conjures thoughts of a more hopeful time. Eyes set on the future, an enthusiasm for jets and rockets, the high speed of the now, the promise of worlds beyond just over the horizon.
Pass the still-occupied Howard Greenbay Resort Hotel and you’ll see the pod on thecar, it’s about a 35 minute drive on the highway; for motorbikes, it’s around an hour with two viable routes- out toward Keelung on mostly built-up roadways, or up through the outskirts of Yangmingshan.
The Yangmingshan route is a tranquil and lush drive but can become treacherous in rain or fog, so make sure to check the weather before settinglocation is popular with photographers, so don’t be surprised if you see another figure darting through the abandoned houses.
Also, despite the initial appearance of complete dilapidation and abandonment, some parts of the neighborhood seem to still be occupied, so be respectful of the residents.