Almost a century of healthcare architecture – from the first ‘modern’ hospitals built at the end of the nineteenth century to the suburban healthcare complexes of the 1960s and 1970s – as told through a selection of drawings and photographs. Medical advances and new ideas about health and hygiene have had a profound impact on these kinds of buildings. But architectural ideologies and theories have also played a role in their development.


The pavilion system was particularly popular in the nineteenth century. Patients were isolated from one another by means of separate volumes dispersed across a large terrain. At the beginning of the twentieth century, this model was superseded by more efficient building forms. The quest for rational layouts dominated the 1920s and 1930s. Furthermore, the health and comfort of the patient became increasingly central to the building programme. Modernist principles, such as ‘light’, ‘air’ and ‘contact with nature’, gained ground and found their clearest expression in healthcare architecture. The high-rise building was introduced as a new typology. In post-war Belgium, the burgeoning healthcare sector led to a significant increase in the number of hospitals, sanatoriums and other types of care centres. The emphasis was placed on modern design, functionality and technology. Architectural practices began to specialise in the field of healthcare. As architects gained greater control over different facets of the design, the opportunity arose to create recognisable and strong buildings.

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