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It was once said that the art of the future would be fantasy enriched by science. But these mini-Sputniks lying dormant at the northern tip of Taiwan seem to be trapped in limbo. From above, the abandoned resort of San Zhi looks like a string of scattered sweets, lapped by waves on a desolate shore. The colourful elliptical pods are clustered in groups of three, and with their rusting edges and cracked windowpanes, they’re like an eerily deserted film set. Their design has its origins in the Finnish fibreglass and polyester plastic “Futuro”, a utopian, space-age mobile home created by Matti Suuronen in the mid-60s. This was a time in which commentators foresaw a future of increasing leisure time in the face of giant leaps in technology. Whereas the Futuro was doomed by mass marketing (and perhaps the leisure age that never quite seemed to materialise), these Taiwanese flying-saucer holiday homes had an altogether more supernatural fate. Originally commissioned by the government and local firms, the site was planned as an exclusive and luxurious resort for wealthy Taiwanese who were looking for sea air and a break from city life in Taipei. While the Futuro was built to be transported by helicopter, and came with UFO-like retractable steps, these pods were designed to be stackable, so that as the resort grew in popularity, it could grow upwards, layer by layer. But a strange turn of events put the complex on hold for good. During the construction of the now lunarlooking site, a number of fatal accidents occurred that cloaked the area in
Occupied By Spirits And Obsessed Over By Architects,
Taiwan’s Long Since Abandoned Pods Have Become Relics Of A Utopian Vision
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T H e Ro u nD superstition. San Zhi was soon believed to be haunted by the spirits of the unfortunate victims, unable to pass on to the afterlife. Holiday-makers (and their cash) stayed away in droves. And yet, it’s something of a catch 22: no one dare demolish or renovate the site either, for fear of destroying the homes of the spirits currently thought to be living there. And so, they remain in their twilight zone, a stab at the future, slowly decomposing into ruins. Text Hannah Lack Photography Lin Yung-Chieh
82 AnOtherMan Architecture