In northern Taiwan, there is a rural place called Sanzhi – famous for its hand puppet museum and former president Lee Teng-hui. Hidden in the heart of Sanzhi, an abandoned resort known as the Sanzhi UFO Pod City or “Ruins of the Future” existed unknown to most outside the village. The would-be resort consisted of several colorful futuristic pod-shaped structures that resemble UFO spaceships. These structures were inspired by a ‘Futuro’ style introduced to the world by Finnish architect and engineer Matti Surronen. Shaped like an ellipse with space-themed features, who wouldn’t be attracted to the euphoric (personally referred to as UFO-Ric) resort living?
In 1978, Taiwan developers started building vacation pods with the intention of opening a futuristic vacation resort with hopes of attracting American military officers posted in East Asia. The project was initiated by Yu-Chou co, a famous plastic manufacturer in Sanzhi. The project was not completed for speculated reasons and by 1980, construction was completely halted as a result of bankruptcy. The resort remained a ghost town until 2008 when demolition began to build a new seaside resort and water park.
Without a doubt, this project was cursed from the beginning when construction workers destroyed a dragon sculpture to more easily build the UFO pods. According to Chinese beliefs, destroying dragon sculptures can bring bad luck and misfortunes. In addition to other conspiracy theories revolving around the construction, many say the location was a former burial ground of Dutch soldiers and 20,000 skeletal remains were found on site. The mysterious car accidents, fatalities, and suicides that followed, solidified that the project was ill-fated, and the resort never opened to the public.
In 1989, a local beer house wanted to bring the project back to life. The resort revitalization was destined for failure again when engineers found the UFO pods to be structurally unsound due to it’s reinforced plastic shell that was inadequate for a region prone to earthquakes. The project was abandoned before the contract was even signed. Despite subsequent petitions pleading to save at least one of the structures for museum use, the government intended to demolish the entire resort in 2008.
An interesting CNET article documents the state of the UFO as of September 2018 where a few of the pods have remained standing.
The pod ruins were a dream destination for photographers and videographers, serving as a filming hub for many movies and TV shows. By 2010, all remaining resort derelicts were removed – adding a cloud of mystery behind the once-standing ruins. The Sanzhi pod houses now only exist in our hearts with photos and videos to remember them by.
Cover photo by Geoffrey Morrison