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Octávio de Freitas Sanatorium Complex

Conjunto Sanatorial Octávio de Freitas, the oldest hospital complex dedicated to the treatment of tuberculosis in Pernambuco, was named in honor of the sanitarian doctor from Piauí who, in Recife, had a great participation in the regulation of hygiene measures and in the fight against epidemics, Octávio de Freitas .

Octávio de Freitas Sanatorium Complex

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Last update: 16/03/2023

By: Cristiano Felipe Borba do Nascimento - Architect and Urban Planner, Doctor in Urban Development and S&T Analyst - Fundaj

The oldest hospital complex focused on tuberculosis treatment in Pernambuco was named after the sanitary doctor from the state of Piauí who had a great participation in the regulation of hygiene measures and in the fight against epidemics in Recife—such as the Spanish flu—and who founded the Pernambuco League Against Tuberculosis in the early 20th century.


This name was actually given only after the expansion made in 1956 of the so-called Sanatório de Tuberculose do Sancho [Sancho Tuberculosis Sanatorium], which was built from 1938 to 1946 by the Works Department of the Ministry of Education and Health according to a standard project adopted by the Brazilian Government at the time.


The Sancho building was established in the Tejipió neighborhood, a region previously isolated in the west end of the municipality of Recife, with land on a higher elevation than that of the estuarine plain in the central area of the city, with many green areas and purer air than in the most densely inhabited areas at that time—many desirable conditions for implementing a tuberculosis treatment center, according to the precepts that lead modern European sanatoriums.


In turn, the expansion was conducted as an annex of the first building, with new buildings of pavilion-like structure—long blocks of horizontal trend, ground floor or few floors, aimed at efficiently separating clinic and infirmary wards and maintaining good lighting and ventilation conditions in the spaces—different from the original sanatorium, volumetrically organized as a monoblock.


This expansion was conceived based on the model adopted by the Hospital da Curicica [Curicica Hospital], in Rio de Janeiro, made five years earlier and designed by the modernist architect Sérgio Bernardes. The pavilion-like system, besides the more organized division among the categories of patients, was a relatively new guideline in the 1950s in Brazil, adopted from the National Campaign Against Tuberculosis, started in 1948.


After the expansion and change of its original name, the Conjunto Sanatorial Octávio de Freitas held 453 beds: 200 in the previous vertical monoblock and 235 in the new pavilion-like block.


Notably, these modernizing actions were also accompanied by an expansion in the state network of dispensaries—smaller buildings, located in a decentralized manner in the cities and aimed at the early diagnosis of tuberculosis among the population, and which relied on an ingenious spatial scheme of separation between doctors and patients: the use of a translucent screen that subdivided the work environments and allowed clinical inspection and screening without contact between the subjects.




Recife, February 5, 2021.

sources consulted

BRASILEIRO, Carolina da Fonseca Lima. Arquitetura antituberculose em Pernambuco: um estudo analítico dos dispensários de tuberculose de Recife (1950-1960) como instrumentos de profilaxia da peste branca. 2012. Dissertação (Mestrado em Desenvolvimento Urbano) – Programa de Pós-Graduação em Desenvolvimento Urbano, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, 2012.


VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Octávio de Freitas. In: Pesquisa Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2005. Disponível em: Acesso em: 26 maio 2020.

how to quote this text

NASCIMENTO, Cristiano Felipe Borba do. Conjunto Sanatorial Octávio de Freitas. In: Pesquisa Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2021. Available at: Access on: month day year. (Ex.: Fev. 10, 2022.)