Design/Architecture Briefing— Global


A new entry to the tiltrotor market, the finest small naval craft, and the best portable mess kit.

Marathon Watch, Optimus

Refined rations

Sweden/Finland [MESS KIT]

The precision and ingenuity required in design for military purposes spills into all aspects of life on duty, not just transport, machinery and weapons. The best mobile mess-kit contents have been adopted by the camping community and, unsurprisingly, are of Nordic descent.

Some of our favourites are below. The dinky aluminium kettle with fold-down handle is by Swedish manufacturer Optimus. Its shallow dimensions mean it fits into small spaces and boils water quickly. Optimus has also been making portable…


Nicolas Michelin

Founder and director, ANMA


Michelin is founder of ANMA, the architects behind the new French Ministry of Defence, due for completion in 2014.

How did you approach the design of the new ministry of defence?
I had to consider the building’s function and what it represents: soldiers and strength, but a purposefully secretive element, too.

Describe some of the more unique aspects of the project.
The military required a central “pole” to connect the different sectors – army, navy and so on – creating a hexagon. People have called it the “French Pentagon” but that was not my intention.

What was your intention?
Something abstract and peaceful. There is plenty of white – I wanted to evoke the image of the army as something that preserves the peace. I also tried to add surprises. There will be 10 courtyard gardens; I don’t think the generals will expect that.

Colombia [backpacks]

When Colombia’s elite special forces go on jungle missions against Farc guerillas they take two backpacks, which last 40 days and weigh 110kg.

Inside the big backpack:
1 T-shirt
1 set of underwear
1 protective helmet
1 rain poncho
2 guns
1 harness
1 pair of night-vision goggles
1 first-aid kit
1 10m sling
2 military glow sticks
1 torch
1 flasher
1 GPS compass pouch
1 hand compass
1 ration
2 water flasks
Insect repellent
Camouflage face paint
Toothbrush and toothpaste

Inside the small backpack:
5 T-shirts
5 sets of underwear
1 uniform
1 pair of boots
1 pair of flip flops
1 balaclava
1 towel
1 pair of gloves
1 stick
1 sleeping mat
3 rations


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