Institut Joseph Lemaire


It used to have the looks of a luxury hotel, but in fact ‘Institut Joseph Lemaire’ or ‘Sanatorium Lemaire’ was a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. It was built in 1926 and demolished in 2013. Discover the intriguing history of an abandoned hospital nestled within the heart of Belgium.

Built in 1936 by renowned architect Maxime Brunfaut, this captivating structure was originally commissioned by the socialist insurance company La Prévoyance Sociale. Designed to house 150 male patients, the hospital deviated from conventional layouts of its time. It boasted bold linear elements and airy interiors that reflected the modernism and neues bauen style of the era.

    Red Cross

    Throughout its existence, the hospital underwent transformations that mirrored the tumultuous events of the 20th century. During the Second World War, it was repurposed by the Red Cross. It accommodated 235 individuals in need of medical care. Subsequently, in 1968, it transitioned into a lung sanatorium. Later, it evolved into a rehabilitation center for the long-term sick and disabled.

    However, despite its rich history and architectural significance, the hospital fell into disrepair following its abandonment in 1987. Over the years, it became a haven for squatters, graffiti artists, and urban explorers, each leaving their mark on its walls. Despite the ravages of time and vandalism, the building’s inherent beauty and grandeur remained intact, attracting attention from architectural enthusiasts worldwide.

    Residentie Tombeekheyde

    In 2015, a new chapter dawned for the abandoned hospital as it underwent a transformation into Residentie Tombeekheyde, a home for the elderly. This revitalization breathed new life into the once-forgotten structure, preserving its legacy while providing comfort and care to a new generation.

    As an urban explorer, I had the privilege of venturing into the abandoned sanatorium in 2005. I captured glimpses of its faded glory and unraveling its untold stories. Today, as Residentie Tombeekheyde, it stands as a testament to resilience and reinvention, continuing to inspire awe and fascination among those who encounter its storied past.

    Built 1936
    Abandoned 1987
    Reconverted 2013
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