Prison 11 forms a small part of a sizeable army Barracks, in a historically important Belgium town. These barracks date back to the end of the 19th Century, however plans for the military base on this site date to some 40 years earlier. Initially only a small battalion were stationed here, but over the decades this was home to a variety of troops. In the 1930s three infantry battalions resided here. In World War 2 the Germans took over the barracks to house their own troops, but were later ousted at the end of the war by the allied forces. After the war American forces settled in these barracks briefly, before being returned to the Belgians. The buildings were finally abandoned in the mid-1990s.
Block C of Prison 11 was converted to apartments in 2008, with plans to re-purpose more of the site.
The remaining large block is relatively bare, long corridors and empty side rooms so we didn’t photograph here due to time limits. There is a small room with a high security door in this main block, which may have been weapons storage when the barracks were in use. We only photographed a small isolated side building which contains several small cells, with some very interesting lighting on that early spring afternoon. A basic wooden beds and a simple wooden chair remained in the cell. There is one toilet at the end of the corridor, with only a small partition wall for privacy. The cells have one small skylight and have a footprint of no more than two metres squared. The doors were locked with heavy-duty slide bolt, and a lockable viewing window lies below the stencilled cell numbers.
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