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Exterior Barracks

This exterior guard barracks is the first piece of my new castle to be built. Of course it didn't turn out exactly as I had planned, but it seems OK to me. The worst part is the pictures. I've gone through several dozen pictures, and these are the best of the lot. My digital camera has no manual focus or aperture settings, so if I don't let it use the flash, the pictures are all very dull and yellow. So, until I find a better solution, you'll have to put up with pictures that have flash glare on bright edges.

The barracks is a two storey wooden structure, built against the castle's outer curtain wall. Building this has shown me that even after acquiring lots of Megabloks grey bricks, I don't have enough for a full castle with curtain wall at this scale. Oh well. I've used brown "log" pieces for the walls of the structure, with a two-layer footing of grey stone. There is also a one-layer thick stone floor. The second floor is a double-thick layer of black plates, with a network of 1xN black beams on the bottom of it. These beams sit on top of various pillars and supports, hopefully in a way similar to what would be done in real life. The caps of those supports are black tiles, and so the entire floor becomes one normal brick thick. The top roof of the building is done the same way, although it has fewer supports and beams.

Here is an overall picture of the outside of the building. You can see the partial curtain wall at the back, and the stone chimney on top. The ladder laying to the left allows access to the roof of the building.
This picture shows the underside of the upper roof. You can see the rows of beams that keep it straight, and which sit on the pillars visible in the pictures of the upper floor.
This is a large image, showing an overall view of the lower floor. This picture was taken with the stone curtain wall piece removed. In the upper left corner is the commander's office. To the right is the entrance area, with stairs up to the upper level. Below the commander's office are the quarters for his two lieutenants. To the right of that is the commander's quarters. The right portion of the lower level is an armoury.
This picture is a slightly closer view of the quarters end of the lower floor. This shows the layout of those rooms.
Here is a detail of the armoury. You can see the armouror working on a captured shield. There are various supplies, tools, worktables, etc. scattered around. This room needs two pillars to hold up the ceiling, and one has a set of four oil lamps to provide light.
Here is an even closer shot of the back half of the armoury.
This is the guard commander's office. He has the only fireplace in the building (although the lieutenants' quarters gets some heat from the back of the chimney). The commander has a table for his work, with chairs for himself and one visitor. His armour and weapons are scattered around the room. Hard at work, he has his bottle of wine at hand.
The commander is the only one with private quarters. He even has decent sheets and blankets on his bed. It is very small by modern standards, but represents considerable luxury by the standards of the day.
Here is a closeup of the lieutenants' quarters. It too is pretty fancy by the standards of the time. They have a bunkbed and their own table and chairs, plus their own oil lamps. The off-duty lieutenant is wisely getting some sleep.
This larger image shows the upstairs of the barracks building. The stairs down are in the middle of the bottom half. To the left are 5 beds for the currently off-duty squad. The squad themselves can be seen at the back, playing cards. To the right are the beds of the on-duty squad, with one bed for visitors. These are very luxurious guard barracks, and fighters from far and wide vie for the priviledge of being in one of the squads! You can see a couple of spare stools, and three braziers to provide heat and light.
Here is the upper floor, in a similar shot, but with the entire upper floor unit removed from the building.
This closeup shows the beds of the on-duty squad.
This closeup shows the beds of the off-duty squad.
Here is the off-duty squad, getting a lot of much needed rest - or something.

When I first started building this structure (which I did a couple of times before getting this final version), I tried using the brown log wall pieces. I really dislike the unrealistic inner side of those, however. So, I tried using a double thickness log wall, using those wall pieces in a staggered pattern. That works, but ends up using about as many smaller log pieces as a single-thickness wall built without the wall pieces. The double thick wall is also harder to put windows in, and is more awkward to fit for corners, etc.

Since my goal has been to build something that structurally makes sense for the materials being modelled, I wanted to do the second floor as a series of beams resting on posts and wall supports, with cross beams on those to form the floors. However, Lego doesn't make odd-length beams longer than 3 studs, so I found myself not being able to fit things in properly. I could have expanded various dimensions to make even-length things work out, but I didn't like that option, especially since the vast majority of my black beams are 1x8. So, I finally gave up on full realism and simply assembled a network of beams on the bottom of the double layer of plates. Doing that takes the annoying bend out of the plates, and allows me to piece the beams together out of available lengths.

I tried a variety of things to provide light to the rooms. I ended up having very little luck using the flame pieces that Lego supplies. They are flames nearly as high as a minifig, and so don't make a lot of sense as torches, even though that seems to be their main purpose. I ended up using oil lamps on the lower floor, and low braziers for the upper floor.

There are still some unrealistic things about the basic structure. The wooden portions do not attach to the stone wall at all. I used that to be able to remove the stone wall, as you can see in some of the pictures. Is that realistic, or would there be ledges in the curtain wall, allowing beams and such to be attached? Similarly, the stone chimney is not attached to the wooden parts. This means that the back righthand wooden wall segment isn't attached to anything, and is therefore quite wobbly.

What would have happened here in real life, back in medieval times? Today, we would put metal strips in the joining concrete between the concrete blocks of the chimney, and the wooden (or metal) studs of the wall would be fastened to those. For a large solid concrete or stone wall, builders would use concrete nails, or would drill holes and place anchor bolts.

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