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Departed greatness

Architecture

Today the Sanatorium Joseph Lemaire, located 19 kilometres to the south of Brussels, is in a poor state of disrepair as it awaits conversion into a home of rest with service flats. Covering a total of 33 hectares, the complex has stood empty since 1987. Fifty years earlier, in 1937, the sanatorium opened amid great interest, even internationally. It was an imposing hospital for tuberculosis patients and was advanced and luxurious for its time, with rooms furnished in a modern style, treatment terraces, a reception room, a spacious entrance hall with a tower above it, and a garden park in the French manner. Linoleum covered the walls for reasons of hygiene, and the windows were left open as much as possible so that fresh air could always circulate through the building. Many architecture fans and experts consider the sanatorium to be a masterwork of modernism. It was built by Maxime Brunfaut to a commission from the socialist insurance company La Prévoyance Sociale, and it was named after the first director.