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THE COMPLEXITIES OF FOUNDATIONS

25 Sep 2018

To the lay person, it seems miraculous that buildings, particularly very tall ones, stand up and, more importantly, stay standing when buffeted by strong winds. Depending on the type of ground the building stands on, the engineer will design the best foundations for the job.

Foundations, or ‘footings’ creating a ‘foothold’, are situated below ground level. Strip foundations can be used where the ground is of good bearing capacity and consist of a trench filled with concrete on which a wall is built.

Concrete ‘pads’ may also be used to support a structure and it is through these that the load from the building is transmitted into the ground. A number of pads will be used to support individual load points such as a column.

In conditions when the ground is soft, a ‘raft’ foundation may be used to spread the weight of the building over its entire area rather than just isolated strips or pads, a little bit like a snow shoe rather than a stiletto.

If the ground is soft on top, but hard underneath, or if the building is larger and heavier, piled foundations may be used. Strong cylindrical ‘piles’ are sunk deep into the ground and these enable the load of the building to be transferred into the deeper, stronger rock below.

 

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