Historic sanatorium at Beelitz, Germany, 1898. Connection with the energy of the place, Beelitz 2014.
The images have been realized in some of the rooms of this historic sanatorium (1898) on the outskirts of Berlin and now abandoned.
The vast abandoned sanatorium / hospital complex Beelitz Heilstätten, southwest of Berlin, is surely one of the city’s most flagrantly open secrets. Easily reached by train from Wannsee, Beelitz is a mythical destination for aficionados of urban exploration (urbex): the clandestine visiting, photographing and filming of abandoned buildings, as well as being an oddly popular spot with ordinary families and couples out for a Sunday picnic or stroll. Beelitz Heilstätten was built in three discontinuous phases between 1898 and 1930, as a sanatorium commissioned by the National Insurance Institute to house and treat the mushrooming numbers of tuberculosis patients in rapidly-expanding Berlin. The site in the Beelitzer forest was chosen because it already enjoyed good transport connections to the capital, and met contemporary therapeutic requirements for fresh, smoke- and dust-free air. The first phase of building work, 1898-1902, under the supervision of the architects Heino Schmeiden and Julius Boethke, established a 600-bed state of the art treatment facility, the patients’ pavilion equipped with large, south-facing balconies for the ‘air-baths’ which were central to the early 20th century TB treatment regime. The second building phase, 1905-08, supervised by Fritz Schultz, doubled the number of available beds, as well as adding outbuildings and infrastructure which turned the complex into a self-contained city for the ill, with its own post office, restaurant, beer garden, nursery, stables, workshops, kitchens, laundry, butcher’s shop and bakery. The sanatorium was strictly divided along gender lines: women were accommodated to the west of the main road, men to the east. Beelitz Heilstätten even boasted its own power-generating plant, with a 44 metre high half-timbered watertower, which has been restored and remains one of the most spectacular buildings on the site.