When the buildings where the beguines (a type of lay nun) provided medical care became too cramped, a plan was made to design a larger complex that would be able to cater not only to women and men, but also to disabled people and people suffering from incurable diseases. Architect Henri Partoes was commissioned to draw up the plans and conceived a vast quadrangle 138 m long and 94 m wide. This was organised around two square courtyards with wide semi-circular arched galleries serving as covered walkways. Construction took place from 1824 to 1827 and, once the works were completed, gave Brussels an imposing Neoclassical style complex which, nevertheless, was only half the size of what was originally planned. The two courtyards were soon developed into gardens, serving as healthy spaces for the institute’s patients. Today, the first garden, laid out in a landscape style, is composed of grassy areas interspersed with flower beds, stands of ornamental shrubs and a number of trees, such as a magnificent narrow-leafed ash. Lime trees, black locusts, a beautiful line of cherry blossoms and privet hedges give the second garden a much more classical appearance. Adjoining the side of the complex, a third garden is planted with, among other things, lime trees, poplars, holly and hazel bushes. Owned by the City of Brussels Public Welfare Services, the premises are soon to be converted as part of a huge intergenerational project comprising housing for families and students, assisted living accommodation and a medical hotel. (Listed 03/07/1997)
Exhibition on the history of the building and presentation of the conversion project.