Xìnyì District 信義區 is among the richest and most expensive parts of Taiwan but it hasn’t always been this way. Decades ago it was sparsely settled and far more industrialized, particularly around Wúxìng Street 吳興街, where I lived for several years in the late 2010s. This part of the city was once anchored by an immense army maintenance depot previously mentioned in this post, but the entire complex was demolished in the early 2010s, replaced by parking lots, basketball courts, and wide open fields. The former depot was surrounded by several military villages, all of which were also dismantled apart from the grim concrete apartment blocks of Wúxìng New Village 吳興新村 and, somewhat further north, the restored and revitalized #44 South Village 四四南村 across from Taipei 101.
Until recently there was also a cluster of what were probably illegal houses on the southern periphery of the former army depot. Nestled into a tiny patch of land next to the mountains and jutting into the factory grounds, this community was demolished in early 2017, but not before I made several visits to document its disappearance. There is nothing particularly noteworthy or unusual about this small community—and indeed, I can find no information about it whatsoever. This post serves only to document a nameless, unremarkable place, one of thousands disappearing into memory all across Taiwan.
The photos in this post were captured on multiple occasions, often while I was biking to work some morning or another, and with a variety of different cameras. It was interesting to observe the passage of the seasons from within the tight confines of the passages leading to each home. I also returned after typhoons to see what mayhem had been wrought by the storm, often to discover another makeshift add-on torn to splinters and strewn across the laneway. Others held up fairly well, showing no damage, the personal possessions left behind still resting where their owners had last set them down before leaving forever. It was interesting to consider why some objects weren’t taken, particularly photographs and journals, some of which belied an interest in learning English.
Not all structures in this post were destroyed. There was one big house at the back of the community that seems to have been legal, as well as a wooden shed concealed by the jumble of other buildings that had been thrown together. I suppose that big house ultimately explains why the factory walls jog to the north at this particular location. While the other buildings had been evicted as of the last day of 2015 the big house was still occupied anytime I swung by to explore the smaller houses out front.
For reference, these homes were formerly located at Xìn’ān Street, Alley 103, Lane 201 信安街103巷201弄. There’s nothing to see there now except for a sprawling construction site. Apparently this area will become a big city park one day soon…