Joseph Lemaire Sanatorium, Brussles: Sign the petition or send the filled-in pdf document attached.

editor 19. September 2009 095_savethesanatorium_appeal.pdf Bedrohter Bau

Support Needed !   Severe Threat to Belgian Modernist Masterpiece, Joseph Lemaire Sanatorium

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Some 19km from Brussels lays the Joseph Lemaire Sanatorium, a modernist masterpiece by architects Maxime and Fernand Brunfaut. Both designers were closely linked with the socialist movement in the interbellum period, and played an important role in the introduction of modern principles in Belgian architectural culture. Before embarking on a successful personal career, Maxime Brunfaut was for a longtime Victor Horta’s principal assistant.

Just like Aalto’s famous Paimio Sanatorium and Duiker and Bijvoet’s celebrated Zonnestraal Sanatorium, the Lemaire Sanatorium was conceived in a typically functionalist manner, providing a state-of-the-art infrastructure for the cure of patients suffering from tuberculosis.

From its opening in 1937 on, the Lemaire Sanatorium attracted international attention from both the medical and architectural world who praised its functional organization, the fluid sequence of its interior spaces, the plastic articulation of the building masses and the detailing of the façades, clad with ceramic tiles.

After the building was disused in the late 1980s, it quickly fell pray to decay, vandalism and theft. Paradoxically, its listing as a historical monument in 1993 even stimulated this perishing as it led to a situation of immobility. Propositions for reuse of the structure as lofts, offices or an asylum for political refugees were aborted in an early stage. Despite its current ruinous state, the building continues to attract international attention from scholars, architects and photographers who are impressed by the strength of its forms and its interaction with the surrounding landscape.

In an attempt to safeguard the building and stimulate the debate about its future use, we started in 2007 a preservation campaign called “Save the Sanatorium.” Our aims are threefold:
> Save the Sanatorium strives for a sustainable reuse of the Lemaire Sanatorium with respect for its cultural, architectural and social significance and its relation with the natural environment. We ask that, like in the past, part of the building and the surrounding park remain accessible for the general public.
> Save the Sanatorium demands a proactive concern of all involved parties (public and private) before the dilapidated state of the building becomes irreversible. Given the current harsh winter conditions, time is of utmost essence.
> Save the Sanatorium asks all concerned actors, public and private, to urgently team up in developing a strategy for reuse with respect for the exceptional character and the specific features of this architectural landmark.

We intend to send letters to all parties involved to express our concern and force a breakthrough in the deadlocked debate about the future of the Lemaire Sanatorium. For this, we need your support as an individual, as an institution or organization. We are convinced that a clear call from the architectural community will help raising the awareness about the architectural, historical and cultural importance of this structure and the critical condition of its current state.

Sign the petition or send the pdf document in attachment to <Diese E-Mail-Adresse ist vor Spambots geschützt! Zur Anzeige muss JavaScript eingeschaltet sein.>.

We will address this appeal to all public and private actors involved in the future of the Joseph Lemaire Sanatorium.
Many thanks,

Save the Sanatorium
Docomomo Belgium

Information forwarded by the
International committee for
documentation and conservation
of buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the
modern movement