The architect Maurice Boille, a pupil of Victor Laloux, was one of the ten pupils chosen on 23 July 1910 for the final test for the Grand Prix d’Architecture or Prix de Rome. For this, each candidate worked in isolation, “en loge”, for four months.
The subject, a sanatorium, was a popular topic in society at that time. Since around 1850, several European countries had been examining ways of eradicating tuberculosis. The programme gave a precise description of an establishment specifically for high-ranking colonial civil servants, officers and soldiers weakened by the tropical climate.
The challenge, therefore, was to set up a huge building for several hundred men, between the sea and the mountains, thus obliging the candidates to design a series of terraces and pavilions to provide the necessary services (including a villa for the governor of the colony, with gardens that included grottos and water features), and walkways.
The competition was won by Fernand Janin. The sanatorium was a public health concept in itself, and would be the starting point for a health and tourism economy like those in traditional spas. Maurice Boille’s design was exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1913.