Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Constructing the Contemporary Soldier - Redesigning Burnham's Barracks

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posted on 2022-08-01, 01:40 authored by Earwaker, Sarah

The traditional design of military barracks is an identified issue throughout the world. Due to neglect, age and original design, their condition is causing soldiers to suffer both mentally and physically. Michel Foucault provides a theoretical perspective that underlines the reason for the poor approach to barracks design. He believes that it is to control and survey occupants. This theory has provided the theoretical overview for this study. It aims to discover ways in which barracks can be redesigned to enhance a soldier’s living condition, thus enhancing their overall health and well-being. However, well-being isn’t the only factor that requires consideration in the design of barracks. Military order, systems and function is vital towards the creation of a successful army. These elements should not be disregarded in the solution to an improved barracks design for soldiers. These two aspects, military order and well-being, generate a tension that tugs design elements in opposing directions. Design for military order is rigid, structured and efficient. Whereas design for well-being is soft, natural and has privacy. This thesis develops a barracks design for permanent, single soldiers that creates a harmony between these opposing tensions. The design is situated within Burnham Military Camp, New Zealand. Some of the buildings are currently in poor condition, presenting an ideal opportunity to develop a new barracks model for the camp. Multiple research strategies have been used throughout the process, beginning with historical and case study research to establish the foundations for the design. Following this, the overarching method used is research through design. This method informed the process of the design to be iterative, progressing upon critical reflection. The final design integrates the tensions of military order and well-being. It does this in a way that is not often seen within new military barracks today, creating the opportunity for progressive change within the field of military barracks design.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Kawiti, Derek