Located in Northern New Taipei in Taiwan lies a district called Sanzhi, an area that was originally a vacation beach resort built in 1978. Unlike the beach houses that usually come to mind for a coastal getaway, this resort consisted of UFO-like houses resembling Futuro pods (prefabricated houses built in the 1960s and 70s). The unusual resort, however, never hosted a single guest, never finished in construction and was abandoned to become another ghost town. 

After being completely demolished in 2010, there now lie no remains of it. But, behind the project’s failure lies many conspiracy theories!

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Sanzhi Pod city, Taiwan _©Yusheng abandonednow.blogspot.com

Design of the UFO homes

Sanzhi pod city was owned by the Hung Kuo Group and was built to cater to American soldiers who were stationed in East Asian countries in the 70s. It was also marketed towards the wealthy people of the area to buy the pods as second homes. The original idea for concrete sci-fi structures with fibre-reinforced plastic coverings came from plastics manufacturer Yu-Chou-Co. 

The idea for prefabricated flying saucer-shaped homes came from Matti Suuronen, a Finnish architect well-known for his Futuro and Venturo homes in the Casa Finlandia series. The UFO Futuro Chic architecture was meant to make an unusual and unique resort and also serve as a futuristic haven for the soldiers. The houses were also equipped with various modern conveniences and technology with the hope to represent the country’s fast growth and development. The resort also included water bodies and slides for water activities.

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Plan of the UFO shaped homes  _© Michael Lee www.ipreciation.com

Abandonment of the Resort

In 1980, Yu-Chou went bankrupt and the Hung Kuo group faced many investment losses. This caused the project to shut down and then be abandoned for almost 10 years. In 1989 Hung Kuo wanted to extend its tourism business and was then approached by Tsai Chin-Hsien, 

president of Haicheng Tien, a local beer house, who proposed to continue the construction of Sanzhi pod city.

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Shattered windows of the pods _©Peggie Scott

The project was set to finish constructing the half-completed houses without any re-designs or reconstruction. Unfortunately, the project didn’t even last a year. By the end of 1989, Sanzhi was abandoned once again due to conflict in ideas for the compound as well as the existing structures not being structurally sound and constructed in a way not fit to handle seismic activity of the zone. An earthquake could cause severe damage and leaks with no solutions and hence the project was once again a dead end. 

The site was left untouched for a total of 30 years. During this state of dereliction, the site became an underground tourist attraction point for the many eerie theories about the ghost town.

Superstitions and Conspiracies

Though it’s said the Sanzhi project shut down due to investment losses, a lot of strange things occurred as well during the two years it was in construction. The lives of many workers were lost due to car accidents; other freak accidents were occurring in the area too, along with several committing suicide even though there was said to be no signs of them being troubled by anything. Some people related these deaths to supernatural causes, and that these deaths were the main hidden reason the project came to a halt because it drove the workers away. 

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Sights of abandonment of the resort_©n.pinterest.com/pin/363665738638864069

One of the stories says that the site was built on a burial ground for Dutch soldiers. Some have reported seeing spirits and ghosts in the area as well, claiming that the place was haunted. There were rumours as well that 20,000 skeletal remains of 17th-century Dutch soldiers were found on the site.

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Sights of abandonment of the resort © Caters News Agency

Another theory was that the area was cursed and misfortunes were brought upon anyone who entered due to the workers destroying a Chinese dragon statue at the entrance of the site for road widening. According to Chinese culture, dragons are powerful heroic creatures that symbolise good fortune, energy, prosperity and consistent success. Because the statue was broken, rumours spread that it cursed the land.

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Sights of abandonment of the resort along the coast_© Nick Pietraniec

Sanzhi as a Ghost Town

All the superstitions and sinister theories have been said to be what led Sanzhi to become a ghost town when it had good potential to become a well-known tourist attraction. The pod city soon gained a new name soon after it was abandoned; ruins of the future. Though the site was closed off and no one was allowed to step foot in, the place attracted many curious tourists to explore the said haunted land. 

Sanzhi also became a filming location for MTV for its haunting sites. The resort was photographed and included in many articles as one of the most haunted places on earth, contributing to discussions on online platforms.

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View of the Pod City_©worldarchitecture.org

The Disappearance of the UFOs

For nearly 30 years, the Taiwan government had no say on what to do with the land as it was owned by the Hung Kuo group. In 2008, the resort was set to be demolished despite a petition that went around to retain one of the pods as a museum. By 2010 demolition of the site was completed and there now remains no trace of the Sazhi county’s existence in the area except through photographs. 

According to Chin Hui-chu, director of the Tourism and Travel Bureau, the Taipei County Government now has clearance to reconstruct the area into a tourist attraction again, with hotels and beach facilities. However, since 2010, Sanzhi has remained deserted.

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Aerial view of Sanzhi Pod city_©findery.com
Aerial view of Sanzhi after its demolition today_©www.google.com

References

Wikipedia. (2020). Sanzhi UFO houses. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanzhi_UFO_houses [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].

World Architecture Community. (n.d.). Sanzhi UFO Houses. [online] Available at: https://worldarchitecture.org/architecture-news/czcpg/sanzhi-ufo-houses.html [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].

February 17 and Pm, 2013 at 8:48 (2016). Sanzhi Pod City – How Superstition Led to a Ghost Town in Taiwan. [online] World Abandoned. Available at: https://www.worldabandoned.com/sanzhi-pod-city [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].

2016 – 9:30am (2016). The creepiest place on Earth. [online] news. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/travel-stories/derelict-pod-village-could-be-haunted-as-mysterious-deaths-occur/news-story/0fbcab9743c045a1efa798aa95acc124 [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].

OZY. (2018). Why This Haunted Taiwanese Village Is Full of Deserted UFOs. [online] Available at: https://www.ozy.com/around-the-world/why-this-haunted-taiwanese-village-is-full-of-deserted-ufos/82868/ [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].

Author

Anjali is an aspiring architect from Hyderabad, with a bubbly, inquisitive outlook on life. She loves to explore and travel, whether it be on land or through literature. Someday her designs will solve social issues. Till then, if feeling muddled, penning it down or dancing it out is her answer.

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