Recycled foundations under research

01 May 2008

Designing Foundations For The Redevelopment Of City Centre Sites Can Be Quite challenging because the unexpected ground conditions are likely to include old piles. Continual redevelopment of such sites could lead to pile gridlock but a European research programme currently underway is trying to overcome the problem by re-using existing piles.

The Re-use of Foundations for Urban Sites (Rufus) is a three year €1,5 million study, partly funded by the EU, to develop guidance on recycling of existing foundations. Rufus is being led by the UK based Building Research Establishment (BRE) with support from Arup, BAM, Cementation Foundations Skanska, Soletanche-Bachy, Stamatopoulos, the Swedish Geotechnical Institute and the Technical University of Darmstadt.

“One of the biggest obstacles to re-use of existing foundations is poor or non-existent records of the as-built conditions,” said BRE principal consultant Tony Butcher. “Most schemes where the foundations have been re-used involve the same consultant but it is rare for foundations to be recycled at the moment.”

The Rufus study is split into several packages of investigation work and will help establish best practice for finding out what foundations already exist, testing methods and techniques to enhance pile capacity. “We are also looking at ways to future proof new foundations by creating a documentation system to store as built record and reduce the risks involved with re-using foundations,” said Mr Butcher. “We are also looking at whether it is possible to install monitoring systems into piles during construction, which will allow their performance to be checked while still in use.”

All of the findings of the Rufus study will be drawn together into a handbook, which Mr Butcher expects to be launched at a special conference in 2006. “The handbook will include case studies and a decision model to help clients and consultants decide whether re-use is viable,” he said.

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