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Basis of Structural Design

Course 6 Structural action: - Foundations - General remarks on structural action


Course notes are available for download at http://www.ct.upt.ro/users/AurelStratan/

Foundations
Most structures invariably rest on the ground The best solution would be to place the supports of a structure on solid rock, but this is seldom possible In most cases solid rocks lies deep in the ground, with softer and weaker soil layers above it Relatively high stresses in the superstructure have to be safely transferred to the much softer and weaker soil. This is done through foundations

Types of foundations
Isolated footing
Top soil layer is removed and a block of concrete, wider than the one which rests on it, is placed on the ground Plan dimensions of the isolated footing need to be larger than the ones of the column, in order to have lower stresses at the foundation-soil interface Foundation dimensions should be large enough to allow stresses acting on the soil to be smaller than the soil strength

Continuous footing: when the structural member to be supported by the foundation is a wall, the footing is realised continuously below the wall, following the concept of the isolated footing

Types of foundations
Raft foundation:
When the soil is very poor, larger area is required for the foundation, which extends over the full plan dimension of the building Raft foundations were developed by Romans, who built them from hydraulic concrete several metres deep Modern raft foundations are much thinner, as they area realised from reinforced concrete Raft foundations can be constructed as a series of boxes, with the walls in the basement contributing to the strength of the foundation and enabling thinner slab

Types of foundations
Isolated and continuous footings, and raft foundations are shallow foundations:
placed relatively close to the surface of the ground loads are transferred from the building to the soil by providing large enough area of the foundation in order to reduce stresses below the ones allowed by the strength of the soil

Types of foundations
Pile foundations:
Soil properties get better as the depth increases. When the soil near the surface is very poor, pile foundations can be used. Pile foundations are made of tree trunks (in old times), steel or reinforced concrete (in modern times) Loads are transferred to the soil through shear stresses between the pile shaft and the soil (major contribution) and compression stresses at the bottom of the pile (minor contribution) Piles are long, enabling them to reach stronger and stiffer soil layers, or even solid rock First pile foundations date back to Neolithic period, and were made of tree trunks

Types of foundations
Pile foundations:
Without pile foundations, cities like Venice and Amsterdam, located due to strategic and economic reasons on marshes could not have been developed at all Wooden piles were usually of oak or, in the sea, of greenheart from Central America, which is particularly resistant to marine borers Pile foundations can be installed by either driving them into the ground (wooden, steel and precast concrete) or drilling a shaft and filling it with concrete

Piles are deep foundations, in which loads are transferred to the soil by reaching deeper and stronger soil layers.

Types of foundations
Cofferdam foundations
Cofferdam is an enclosure beneath the water constructed to allow water to be displaced by air for the purpose of creating a dry work environment Were developed by Romans and remained mainly unchanged until the early 19th century Pneumatic caissons were then invented, allowing underwater foundations to be excavated, keeping the water out by air pressure. Difficult and expensive to operate.

Failure of foundations
Complete failures of foundations are rare, though they may happen
Example: Transcona grain silo, Winipeg , Canada. In October 1913, this grain silo started to tip over. It was loaded with over a million bushels of wheat and was newly built. It continued to sink slowly for over 12 hours until finally it was at an angle of 30 degrees from vertical but still intact. The wheat was emptied from the bins, and work began to right it. By tunelling underneath it, they built new foundations down to the bedrock and then pushed it back into position. It is still in use today

Failure of foundations
Complete failure of foundations are rare, though they may happen
Example: Tilting of apartment buildings at Kawagishi-Cho, Niigata, produced by liquefaction of the soil during the 1964 Niigata Earthquake

Foundation soil behaviour


The biggest problem of foundations is soil settlement, especially the differential settlement, of various parts of a structure, leading to cracking and distortion of the superstructure Soil can vary greatly in composition from one point to another, even under the same structure Soil properties are greatly affected by ground water Soil consists of a mass of solid particles (soil skeleton) of sand and/or clay, more or less loosely packed, and the spaces between them filled with water In an undisturbed soil the weight of the earth above is carried by solid particles, and the water in pores is at normal pressure of water at that level below the water table

Foundation soil behaviour


Soil skeleton is much more compressible than water, and when an additional load (e.g. from a building) comes onto the ground,
At first, the additional compressive stress in the soil is carried entirely by water because it is stiffer than the soil skeleton The pore pressure increases and it is squeezed out sideways from under the foundation Pore water pressure drops gradually back to normal values at that depth, as the soil skeleton is compressed enough to carry itself the loads

In fine clays the water escapes slowly and the process of consolidation under a foundation can take many years

Foundation soil behaviour


Problems due to settlement can arise when:
Soil property changes at different points under the same structure When construction of the building proceeds fast (as is the case in modern times) When an additional heavy load (e.g. a tower in old times) is added after the bulk of the structure is completed and has settled Ground water is pumped out. Notorious instances: Venice and Mexico-city

Example: Venice
Water supply in Venice originally came from mainland Starting from 1910, this was increasingly supplemented from boreholes up to 300 m deep General subsidence of buildings (100-200 mm) extremely damaging to buildings as walls of most Venetian houses start at only about 1 m above average sea level

Foundation soil behaviour


Example: Mexico-city:
Most of the city is built on a soft bed 30-40 m deep of a dried-up lake Building settlement reached constant levels and was not a problem In the 19th century pumping started from deep wells to supplement water supply Today the ground level in the centre of the city is more than 6 m lower than it was in 1900 Old buildings, sewers and water pipes much affected

General remarks on structural action


[1] Structures support loads in the most direct way open to them
bowstring truss: if the top chord has the right shape for the given loading, loads pass directly to the support, ignoring the web members a lateral load at the top of a triangular tower is transmitted down the two main members while the inner bars are unstressed

General remarks on structural action


[1] Structures support loads in the most direct way open to them
(a) the load applied at the top of a column in the frame from the figure goes directly to the foundation through the column, while the rest of structure is virtually unstressed (b) if the direct path is interrupted, the load path is much more complicated, and the stresses and deflections are greatly increased

Rule: provide paths as simple and as direct as possible for the loads to pass to the supports

General remarks on structural action


Characteristics of a well-designed structure:
elements are few and well-disposed their function is obvious, and the whole effect inspires confidence

well conceived structure

ill-conceived structure

General remarks on structural action


[2] The larger the structure,
the more important is the own weight of the structure in comparison with other loads the more important is that structural elements be arranged as efficiently as possible

Example: simply supported beam bridge


moment larger at the midspan provide more material at the midspan to increase the moment resistance
Mmax

larger loads at the midspan larger moments inefficient structural configuration Bridges using simply-supported beams are most often of constant cross-section and are used for small spans only

General remarks on structural action


Example: cantilever bridge
the moment due to dead weight is largest at the support the material must be concentrated at the supports a load near the support produces only a small increase in moment efficient structure for large bridges

General remarks on structural action


[3] Statically indeterminate structures support loads in the stiffest mode open to them
very often, load paths can take two alternatives: direct tension/compression or bending a thin plate loaded transversally supports loads by bending but direct (membrane) action develops rapidly as the plate deflects thin shells support transverse loads as far as possible by compressive membrane forces rather than bending

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General remarks on structural action


[3] Statically indeterminate structures support loads in the stiffest mode open to them
sometimes simple change in a structure allows loads to be carried in a more efficient way:
portal frame with a concentrated load at the ridge develops bending stresses if a tie is inserted between the two sides of the eaves level. The two rafters and the tie form a triangulated structure. The loads are transmitted through compression in the rafters, tension in ties, compression in beams, with negligible bending.

General remarks on structural action


[4] Direct tension is preferable to direct compression
it is rarely possible to avoid compression even in predominantly tension structures as suspension bridges, tensile forces in cables must be balanced by compressive forces in towers minimize the loss of efficiency due to compression by:
keeping the compressive members short use a material (e.g concrete) with lower strength, and therefore more stocky members less prone to instability

[5] In statically indeterminate structures, the stiffer elements will attract larger forces
Example: portal frames are often haunched near the corners
further increase of bending moments at the corners though actual stresses reduce due increase of cross-section

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