A abandoned many years ago: A “préventorium” is similar to a sanitorium in that it was a place to treat people who were ill. However, a préventorium differed in that it accepted patients in the early stages of infection of a particular disease.
In the case of the Préventorium Pour Enfants de Dolhain, the institution’s patients were those children who were in the early stages of tuberculosis.
The préventorium was located in the quiet town of Dolhain, near Liege, in the municipality of Limbourg. It was hoped that the fresh air and good food that was available to the patients there would assist in their recovery.
Building work commenced in the 1950s, but the architect is unknown. The overall style was modernist, but it incorporated some surprisingly elegant elements. For example, the main building had a distinct art deco design with curved, tinted windows on the outside and wrought-iron staircases on the inside.
When everything was completed in 1955, the Préventorium Pour Enfants de Dolhain opened its doors with beds for up to 150 patients.
Pictures taken when the préventorium was operational show that there were terraces lined with sun loungers where the children could rest and enjoy the fresh air. These pictures also show a decent-sized playground within the grounds where the children could both exercise and have fun.
Visible in the background of the pictures is a separate, auxiliary building standing near the hospital. Unlike the modernist architecture of the main building, this was constructed in the Gothic style and looked a little like a miniature castle. Although it is clearly visible in the photographs, the building is not standing today, and its purpose remains unknown.
The Préventorium Pour Enfants de Dolhain was at its height in the 1970s, but in the 1980s, patient numbers began to decline. This was because science had virtually eradicated tuberculosis, so the préventorium had no patients to treat. Eventually, the institution closed its doors altogether, and ownership reverted to the city of Liege.
As it sat empty for many years, the building fell into disrepair while the grounds turned into a wasteland. Everything of use or interest inside the préventorium was taken away and graffiti began to appear on the walls.
However, the Préventorium Pour Enfants de Dolhain became a great draw for urban explorers. Even though the building had been stripped, the architecture itself was still very photogenic. While visiting, some explorers commented that they’d seen evidence of airsoft games being held in and around the buildings.
One particular attraction for photographers was the rusting firetruck that appeared to have been abandoned outside. It was a German-made model known as a Magirus-Deutz and had a 30-meter ladder on the top of it. No one seems to know where it came from or how it ended up there, but being near the curved windows, it offered great photographic opportunities.
It looked like there might be a ray of hope for this historic site in the 1990s when Kurt Mayer bought the property for 10.6 million Belgian francs (approximately £230,000). He planned to build loft apartments, but these ideas never came to fruition.
For almost another three decades, the Préventorium Pour Enfants de Dolhain was left to nature, but in December 2019, a new lease of life seemed assured. The green light was given to a Belgium company called Gehlen to transform this site. The project included building 53 apartments, a medical center, a wellness area with a pool, and possibly some offices as well.
Gehlen had previously worked on revitalizing the Intermills site in Malmedy. Laurent Goblet from the company told local newspapers that he was keen to keep the original building but bring the whole area up-to-date. His aim was to bring heritage to life. Since he was from the area, this was a project that was close to his heart.
The hope is that construction work will start in 2020 and finish in 2022.
The owner of these fantastic photos is an independent videographer and photographer from Belgium: Eric Jaminet. Exploring abandoned buildings and forgotten places is his passion, and he publishes on his website the photos he takes during his explorations.
Urbex Vision is a collection of his photos and videos that convey the beauty and atmosphere that Eric has encountered during his trips.
Visit his site, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact him. In addition to the website, you can follow Eric on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, where he also shares his experiences.