2014/05/08

Sanatorium "Zonnestraal" - Revisited




In an earlier post (August 4, 2008), I wrote about how my career in art began in the early 1950’s during a lengthy-stay at a tuberculosis sanatorium in Holland, called Zonnestraal (‘Sunbeam’).   

The sanatorium was made possible by the Amsterdam Diamond Workers Union. Because my father was a diamond-facetter (and my two grandfathers), I was sent there.  
The building was situated in a quiet pine forest near Hilversum. Zonnestraal was a forerunner in architectural and solar design, allowing a maximum amount of sunlight for the patients. Zonnestraal came into disrepair following medical advances in treating tuberculosis.  
 Zonnestraal in disrepair, 1980's
a view of what had been the patients' rooms; these rooms were completely open on one side, with no windows.
In the 1990’s a group of architects petitioned to have the building restored because of its major architectural significance.  Not long ago the World Monuments Fund awarded a prize to the architects who restored the building.  Zonnestraal is also awaiting listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 Founded by the Diamond Workers Union of Amsterdam, the sanatorium was part of a larger aftercare colony for tubercular patients. It was funded by Union dues as a facility that would train members who had been afflicted with the disease for their return to society. Zonnestraal is emblematic of the emerging ideals of social democracy in the Netherlands during the 1920s, and it reflected the new concept of using occupational therapy in health cure.”   World Monuments Fund 

It would have been hard for me to imagine, way back in 1952, that over sixty years later, Zonnestraal would become such an iconic building. I thought we’d share this with you.

Henri van Bentum