Guomao Community – Kaohsiung City, Taiwan - Atlas Obscura

Guomao Community

High rises built to house displaced military personnel and their families form a unique cylindrical shape. 

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In 1949, when the Kuomintang (KMT) under Chiang Kai-shek fled the communist advance to Taiwan, millions of ROC military personnel and their families found themselves on a strange island without homes. In response to their immediate needs, makeshift communities were constructed called military dependents’ villages. One such military dependents’ village was built in Zuoying District, Kaohsiung, in the 1960s to house navy personnel and families.

Within two decades, however, the community was torn down and the people were relocated to 13 densely packed highrises, each 12 stories tall. The buildings were designed to be a world unto itself, with shops on the base floors providing most of the daily necessities for the community.

Most of the highrises are your typical, nondescript skyscrapers. However, buildings eight and nine each form a semi-circle, surrounding a small park and creating a distinctive cylindrical shape reminiscent of a stadium, or perhaps Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon. Those who look up from the center of the park will be dizzied by the spiraling rows of recessed windows.

People still live in the buildings and the first floors are still occupied by sundry shops. Locals especially enjoy the Chinese restaurants where you can get various mainland dishes. 

Know Before You Go

The buildings are free to walk around and between 24 hours a day and the shops and restaurants are free to enter when open, but beyond the first floor the buildings are mostly made up of private apartments.

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June 13, 2024

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