Tuchthuis Vilvoorde


‘Tuchthuis Vilvoorde’ is an abandoned prison in Vilvoorde, close to the capital Brussel. This big prison was built in 1779 by architect Laurent-Benoit Dewez.

In 1408, the Duchy of Brabant used a fourteenth-century castle on these grounds as a state prison. By 1774, they demolished the original castle, which had undergone multiple rebuilds. The demolition material from the castle was reused to lay the foundations for the new ‘Provinciaal Korrektiehuis’. Consequently, in 1779, the complex housed approximately 270 prisoners.

In 1793, the prison briefly served as a hospital for Austrian troops during the French Revolution. A year later, it transformed into a military hospital for the French Troops. Small criminals were either released or transferred to other centers. Starting from 1798, the complex served as a prison once again. Unfortunately, a fire, ignited by prisoners attempting to escape, damaged part of the building in 1827.

In 1866, it was mainly used for convicted soldiers, as a result it was renamed ‘Maison penitentiare de Vilvorde’. The prison remained a military institution for the next 100 years. In 1919 the west and south wings were badly damaged by the explosion of the nearby gunpowder factory, for this reason half of the building was demolished.

In 1974 the army left the site. The buildings became abandoned until the city started to use it. In 2000 the city started to redevelop the site for new uses. I took these photos of ‘Tuchthuis Vilvoorde’ in 2009.

Built 1779
Abandoned 1990
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