Military architectural tradition

The new rehabilitation centre must be an environment that is conducive to healing.  By the time that Service personnel arrive, the most critical physical injuries will have received clinical treatment but they will face many months or even years of rehabilitation.  The environment where they will spend so much time needs to be delightful, to be familiar and to demonstrate the care and recognition that are their due. Whatever they have experienced, Service personnel should know that in the new DNRC they will be safe, they will be well cared for and that they are not forgotten.

The style of architecture used will greatly influence the atmosphere of the rehabilitation centre.  The place needs to feel like home in the sense that it feels familiar and it feels safe.  For Service personnel, that sense of home comes from being in a military environment; a place that recalls the architectural spirit of the barracks and military academies where they have previously trained and paraded during perhaps the proudest and happiest moments in their careers.

The new rehabilitation centre also needs to inspire a sense of belonging.  Whether the injuries for which a Service man or woman is being treated were received in training or on active service abroad, the separation from the unit for a long period has the potential to make the individual feel lonely and isolated.  It is important, therefore, that when at the rehabilitation centre the injured Service personnel still feel that they are part of the armed forces and part of their normal world.

The architectural style of the military academies, barracks and other important buildings speaks of a pride in the unit that inhabits that building and the men and women which make up that unit.  It is vital that the new rehabilitation centre reflects the nation’s pride and admiration in its armed services and particularly in those who have suffered in the line of duty.  Anyone treated at the new centre should see that pride and gratitude reflected in the style and quality of building provided for them.

There is a tradition of creating such buildings in Britain: places such as the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, and the Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich, were both designed to celebrate the contribution of the armed forces whilst simultaneously providing practical help to those who had served their country.

The Royal Hospital, Chelsea

The Royal Hospital, Chelsea was designed by Christopher Wren to house retired soldiers.  Whilst grand in scale the simple brown brick facades have a domestic quality that creates a restful atmosphere.

RAF Cranwell

The training college at RAF Cranwell was built in the 1930s in a similar but more ornate style to Wren’s Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

© Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Higher Barracks, Exeter

Higher Barracks, Exeter

© Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Peninsula Barracks, Winchester

Peninsula Barracks, Winchester, reflects the British classical tradition of combining red brick with stone dressings to create buildings that have status without being grandiose and imposing.

© Copyright Chris Talbot and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Britannia Royal Naval College

Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, commands an impressive view from high above the river estuary.