Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp

Institute of Tropical Medicine

Marcel Spittael en Paul Le Bon

Antwerp, Nationalestraat 155

1933

 

Tropical institute

Something different this week than a museum or a sculpture. This time a building, a beautiful building, if I say so myself. A strange building too. It stands at the end of Nationalestraat, the beginning of the landscaped South, the end of the connecting boulevard. Here was a guesthouse for the mentally ill and foundlings (find the connection …). The building was abandoned around 1900 and after 20 years of vacancy it was ripe for demolition. It was broken down.

Institute

The Institute of Tropical Medicine had a different name at the beginning of the 20th century: School for Tropical Diseases. It was originally intended to train doctors and nurses to work in the Belgian colonies. Now the work is much broader: education, research and expertise in tropical medicine. It was founded in 1906 in Brussels and moved to this place in 1933. An architecture competition was organized for the design of the building. Victor Horta was the head of the jury! Together with the rest of the jury, he opted for Brussels architects. Horta praised the clarity, incidence of light and the combination of simplicity and diversity.

Airco

The garden on the Kronenburgstraat side is “special”. It is lower than the street and has a few footpaths. The garden itself is also protected. The pond and fountain in the extension of the entrance gate also has a functional function. Above the water surface there are grilles and fans that suck in and spread the fresh, moist air into the building. For a building where hygiene and clean air are super important, much nicer than today’s air conditioners.

The garden is freely accessible every working day from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM and every first Sunday of the month from May to November, from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Dogs are allowed, but they must be on a leash and may not bathe in the pond (we can’t either, I think).

Institute of Tropical Medicine

 

Marcel Spittael en Paul Le Bon

Antwerp, Nationalestraat 155

1933

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