For the architectural historian and Modernism enthusiast, the quasi-abandoned beachfront resort of Futuro and Venturo structures just north of Taipei is an essential and little-publicized pilgrimage. Located in the picturesque coastal Wanli district, the complex offers a glimpse into a bygone era’s optimistic futurism all the more bittersweet considering the site’s current dilapidated condition.
The resort is composed of thirteen Futuros (the unmistakable yellow UFOs) and considerably more Venturos, the more traditional of the pairing. Both were conceived by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late sixties and early seventies, though neither found widespread commercial success. A sort of pre-pre-fab, both designs are essentially multi-piece shells of fiberglass and anodized aluminum. The concept underpinning their strange appearances is almost laughably simplistic; Suuronen envisioned a quickly approaching future where it would be possible to simply helicopter your living pod to a new base when you tired of your surroundings. (Though the more realistic method of disassembling and shipping is also touted by the original advertising materials.) At the site in Wanli, this concept is particularly evident in the Futuros, held in place on their leg-like cement supports by little more than gravity and good faith.
Although a sign at the entrance explicitly prohibits setting up house in any of the structures, a few of the Venturos look from the outside to be inhabited. One in particular, marked by an elaborate driftwood fence, appears to have fresh curtains, unbroken glass, and an operable motorboat parked in the yard. Perhaps one of the last prescribers to Suuronen’s vision of the future? It seems poignant that the last vestiges of that vision should be playing out here, in this obscure beach town on the other side of the world, surrounded by the rubble of that long-abandoned dream. Today, this obscure location on the northern coast of Taiwan may be the only place in the world where both Futuros and Venturos can be seen together in such considerable numbers.
Unlike some other hidden gems of New Taipei City’s outer reaches, this particular attraction is easily accessible by public transportation via bus 1815, departing Taipei Bus Station (next to Taipei Main Station) several times per hour and costing only seven USD or so round trip. The bus takes an hour and a quarter to reach the town of Wanli, and from there it’s a short walk northwest along the coast in the direction of Yěliǔdìzhí Park. Getting lost is difficult, particularly if you have a smartphone, since the distinctive Futuro houses are visible on google maps as a mysterious arrangement of bright yellow circles. As an added bonus, on sunny days, the beach is pretty nice.
For the curious, an abundance of historical information particular to the Wanli site can be accessed online here. Read more on some of the quirky spots in Taipei, such as the Treasure Hill Artist Village, a former squat turned into artist live-work studios, and the urban rooftop gardening movement.