One of the more peculiar ruins I’ve seen in Taiwan was a building immediately across from the Control Yuan 監察院, one of the five branches of government, on Zhōngxiào West Road 忠孝西路. It was inaugurated as the second home of the Taipei City Council 台北市議會 in 1964 after moving from nearby Zhongshan Hall 中山堂. In 1990 the city council relocated to its present base in Xìnyì District 信義區 and the building was converted into a police station before being completely abandoned in 2007. Despite this the building continued to be known as the Second Taipei City Council Building 第二台北市議會大廈.
I’ve been meaning to explore this building since noticing it by the roadside on one of my many rides through the area since moving to Wànhuá District 萬華區 at the end of 2015. I always assumed it would be tough to access given the proximity to so many important government buildings—so you can imagine my surprise when I cycled by one afternoon and saw you could walk right in. I was in a rush that day and didn’t have the time (or equipment) for a proper exploration and, as a result, only shot three photographs of the interior before vowing to return.
I never did get around to going back—and now it’s too late. Today I received reports that the demolition of the building, scheduled since last November, had gone ahead. This building is no more—but it will live on in collective memory and something new will soon take its place.
We should not be sad that progress is being made on this oddly desolate corner at the heart of the nation. But we should be mindful of the fact that all things change—and not all ruins will wait forever for would-be explorers to probe their secrets and document their legacy. Blink and you might just miss something!