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System of identical corridors

The Sint Jacob psychiatric hospital in Amsterdam was built as a Roman Catholic home for elderly men and women in the second half of the nineteenth century. At that time the typology of the nursing home was based on that of hospitals and psychiatric hospitals. Large institutions for the poor, including the elderly, were already common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the nineteenth century these types of buildings underwent an important innovation.

Hospitals and psychiatric hospitals were now designed according to the corridor system, which enabled patients to be treated using the latest medical knowledge but also to be divided by sex and social class. The architect W.J.J. Offenberg applied this typology in the Sint Jacob psychiatric hospital with a system of identical corridors on each floor, on which the wards, washrooms and refectories were located. Men and women were separated and slept in communal dormitories and had their meals in communal refectories. Married couples lived in a separate section at the rear of the building. They had a private bedroom and a communal ‘conversation room’.