“If you have the time, take a look,” Jef Van Ranst, co-founder of SVR-ARCHITECTS, told me in 1993 about this iconic architectural pearl from the interbellum period. It had been empty and in decline for seven years. As a young architect it fascinated me more and more.

From various angles, the most divergent suggestions regarding the approach to the restoration were suggested. Ranging from “it is better to stay away from the monument, because every intervention is a wrong intervention” to “follow the vision of architect Brunfaut but, because if the Sanatorium function ceases to exist, the building may be demolished”.This, of course, was inconsistent with the heritage value, monument status of the building, but demonstrated how different parties, both government and private, looked at and judged about such buildings.

Together with all external, advising specialists, our architectural office has structured the approach for this restoration around objective benchmarks and criteria.

With the utmost respect for the protected monument, we investigated which building elements could still be saved in this pitiful situation. This is to realize a picture as truthful as possible and to breathe new life into the monument.

The execution took 30 months, almost double the original construction time. Admittedly, there were difficult, almost hopeless moments.But over the 25 years the building has crept into my soul and ultimately into that of my employees.

Philippe Van Goethem
Architect – Partner – SVR-ARCHITECTS
1993-2008 Research & options re-use
2008-2017 Residence Tombeekheyde

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