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Published on May 3, 2008
In 1401, the City Council and the Deans of the Cathedral of Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain), founded the Hospital de la Sancta Creu (Holy Cross). Between 1401 and 1892 (women) and 1906 (men) about 10.000 inmates lived there. At the mid-19th Century the Board of Trustees decided to build a modern mental hospital, outside the town to place there the growing number on inmates. Doctor Emili Pi i Molist (1824-1892) wrote a project. The building works began in 1885 and finished in 1915. The hospital was sorrounded by a 300 acres (120ha) rural estate at 6 kms (4 miles) from the City. The new institution was a private hospital who also admit insanes from the public administrations. The building was one of the most perfect examples of moral psychiatric architecture in Europe. After the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the hospital became odd and the living conditions of the inmate were worse. The private clients deserted, and the Board of Trustees sold the rural estate to build the working class suburbs of the City (1855-1970). In the first seventies, the Board of Trustees accepted to begin a large medical reform enlarging the staff of doctors, nurses, ocupational therapists. It was a revolution inside, without any investment in the refurbishment of the building. Finally in 1986 the City Council and the Board of Trustees decided to close the institution. The inmates were deported to other asylums far from the city. Their mortality increased. The remaining building refurbished, became the siege of the City Council Authority of the Nou Barris District of Barcelona. The documentary retraces the history of the institution on the basis of his visual heritage, mainly composed by pictures, a documentary from the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, and a Super8 movie from 1974-76 done by the editor, Josep M. Comelles. Complete and downloadable version in: http://www.vimeo.com/8348238