No.2, Aly. 14, Ln. 230, Sec. 3, Tingzhou Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
This once military veteran's housing community turned artist village is truly a diamond in the rough, and quickly becoming a favorite evening and weekend getaway for locals. Situated on a hillside between the edge of Gongguan District and Fuhe Bridge which crosses into New Taipei City, Treasure Hill (寶藏巖) may actually be the best real-life example of an urban playground. With its haphazardly constructed residences sprouting from the forested landscape, a jungle gym of concrete, bricks, and sheet metal provide a maze of fun to explore. These qualities caught the attention of the Taipei City government and international artists, and subsequently a plan was undertaken to reinforce and upgrade the dilapidated structures for the public to enjoy. Central to this revitalization effort was the idea of transforming the area into an artist village by taking advantage of its uniquely mixed urban-ecological construction.
The effort has paid off, with a combination of studios, galleries, cafes, and even space for visiting international artists providing an abundance of inspiration. In the near future, a youth hostel will also open. Regular art exhibitions creatively integrate modern design elements with the well-worn environment, offering a radical reinterpretation of urban living.
Treasure Hill Temple acts as the gateway to the community, and passing through it serves to remind visitors that the village is a place of re-awakening and transformation. Current efforts at urban farming are a testament to this, and the sheer variety of foods being grown seems to symbolize life in transition, as residents mix foreign tastes with traditional staples.
With a history spanning a few centuries, visitors to Treasure Hill will quickly realize that stories reach far beyond the thin walls. At first an early settlement of Han Chinese immigrating to Taiwan, this area later became a Japanese military outpost, as its proximity to the Xindian River made it an ideal location for river transportation. Shortly after WWII ended and the Japanese withdrew, the defeated Nationalist government of China retreated to Taiwan and brought over two million troops and their families with them. In need of housing and without a clear plan by the government for how to provide it, what were expected to be temporary residences were hastily built around the country to accommodate these veterans of the Chinese Civil War. Treasure Hill was one such housing settlement: at its most populated it housed 200 families, but now only about 20 of those remain after the renovations.
For a bit of day-tripping fun, Treasure Hill can serve both as a starting point to attractions further afield or as a contemplative spot to wind down a busy day. With convenient access to the Xindian River bike trail, visitors may enjoy a leisurely ride south towards Bitan and neighboring Xindian, or follow the southwestern boundary of Taipei City towards Zhongzheng and Wanhua Districts. Alternatively, a short walk across the overhanging Fuhe Bridge will drop you in Yonghe District, one of the most densely populated places in the world.