Barracks are a specific type of military housing in which many members of a military organization are housed together. Similar to dormitories, this form of housing serves a specific population and is defined more by its inhabitants than its structure. The purpose of these edifices is to fully envelop members of the organization in the philosophy of that group, which may include specific eating, sleeping, and working times. Additionally, by separating the members of the military group from the civilian population, this kind of living situation encourages members to bond with one another. These buildings are also useful because they keep all members of the group in a single location, allowing for all members to be contacted or even deployed at a single time.
One of the distinguishing features of these buildings is that they are almost always intended to be permanent structures. Barracks are built in areas where there is an expected need for permanent military housing. The architecture of military housing is dependent on where it is located and often reflects the style of the surrounding buildings. On the other hand, military buildings are often assembled rapidly and shoddily in times of need, leading to an association of barracks with bad architecture.
This kind of housing often features large bays for housing low-level members of the organization. The higher the ranking of the member, the fewer members with whom he or she is usually expected to share a room. Some barracks even feature private bathrooms for the highest members of the group. Normally, kitchen facilities are not included in rooms, as members dine together in a communal area. Most barracks design living areas only for sleeping, often having few, if any, amenities.
Barracks are often used for training and may feature adjacent grounds designed specifically for this purpose. The building may be located next to obstacle courses, shooting ranges, or other military training grounds. Some military training operations are dangerous for civilians, so barracks are frequently located in areas where noise and activities related to the military will not be disruptive.
These buildings are designed to foster community through communal living and have become popular all over the world. The idea that members of a military organization must live together in training in order to bond is nearly universal. When deployed, members of these groups live in conditions at least as restrictive as they experience while living in the barracks. It can be said that life in this kind of housing is often an essential part of training for military action.