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fib Symposium PRAGUE 2011 Session 2B-9: Construction Technology


Vaclav Vimmr

Zahra Sharif

Precast Concrete system offers many potential advantages over cast in-situ structures, therefore there is an ongoing interest in prefabricated element design and their connections. Two most frequently used technologies for fixing prefabricated columns to foundations are pocket foundation and column shoes. The aim of this study is to compare both technologies from various points of view. Structural design and structural requirements according to Eurocodes will be presented including provisions for seismic regions. Another aspect that will be covered for each system is the consumptions of basic materials, e.g. concrete and steel, with regard to additional requirements such as special type of concrete and additional reinforcement, advantages and disadvantages of both systems during the assembly erection process, workmanship demands and geometrical accuracy and provisions related to both discussed systems how to reach required accuracy with regard to 3D rectification possibilities. Cost comparison based on the field experience of construction companies and evaluation of various influencing factors will be covered. Keywords: Precast Concrete, Cast in-situ, Column shoes, Pocket foundation


Extra care must be taken in designing structures subjected to dynamic loading or located in seismic regions. This specially applies to the connection between columns and foundations, which plays a vital role in the stability of the whole structure. Consulting Engineers are often asked by their clients for an advice on foundation technology of columns when columns of single story halls or multi-storey frames should be fixed to footings. The question is more complex than it looks at first sight. Let us analyse the situation in greater detail. Designer Structural engineer is interested in a simple calculation and fast but reliable solution. Contractor usually asks for the cheapest approach. This is rather more complicated because not only labour costs and costs of materials must be taken into account but also other aspects like for instance length of operation, geometrical accuracy of mounting and sometimes also possibility of demounting.


fib Symposium PRAGUE 2011 Session 2B-9: Construction Technology

There are two main systems for precast concrete column to foundation connections: Pocket foundation and Column shoes. Each of these systems will be explained and further discussed in the following sections. Pocket foundations: Eurocode 2 [1] makes differentiation between pockets with keyed surfaces according to and pockets with smooth surfaces see Let us pay our attention to the latter case. It is more frequent in practice and comparison of pockets with smooth surfaces and column shoes is rather easier especially with regard to punching of footing slab under the column. Design of pocket foundations should also satisfy requirements of chapter 6 of Eurocode 7 [2]. In case of precast concrete foundation product standard [3] applies. The forces and the bending moment is assumed to be transferred from the bottom of the column to the foundation pocket by compressive forces F1, F2 and F3 through concrete filling and corresponding friction forces as shown in Fig. 1 taken from Eurocode 2.

The model illustrated by Fig. 1 requires depth of a pocket 1,2 h. The coefficient of friction should not be taken greater than = 0,3. The forces F1, F2 and F3 can be calculated from equations that are presented in the full version of this technical paper. Detailing of a pocket and reinforcement must satisfy the following requirements: pocket wall thickness and reinforcement must be designed to resist the force F1 special reinforcement at the top of pocket walls must transfer force F1 to lateral walls force F1 must be transferred by lateral walls to footing vertical reinforcement of pocket walls must be well anchored and able to carry force F2 In addition to above listed requirements. the main column reinforcement must be well anchored at the its bottom shear resistance of a column within the pocket must be checked And finally punching resistance of the footing slab under the column must be checked for the force F3. Column shoes (See Fig. 2): This system consists of steel shoes which are embedded into the column base, and anchor bolts which are anchored into the foundation. The mechanical connection is between the anchor bolts and steel shoes with usage of nuts and washers attached to the anchor bolts.


fib Symposium PRAGUE 2011 Session 2B-9: Construction Technology

Fig. 1 Pocket Foundations with smooth joint surface

The seismic performance of the system has been evaluated numerically as well as experimentally which resulted in good seismic response of the examined specimens. As far as column shoes are concerned the design is much simpler because one can just take advantage of the available software or other design tools diagrams of bending moments and normal forces. Punching resistance of the slab under the column is similar as in case 2.1. Comparison: Structural design is much simpler in case of column shoes. It is also much easier to take into account real acting forces on each column. On the contrary pockets must be unified for practical reasons.


Pocket foundations: Amount of concrete and reinforcement depends on cross section of a column and acting forces. Additional reinforcement for anchorage of the main reinforcement should not be forgotten. Cost of formwork can be considerably reduced when more pockets of the same shape are produced. After column erection and provisional fixing in a correct position filling of joint between precast column and foundation pocket must be done. Strength of concrete filling should correspond to concrete class of foundation pocket. Minimum shrinkage is required. Cost of involved labour should be added. Column shoes: Similarly size and number of anchor bolts and column shoes depends on column cross section and acting forces. There are not too demanding requirements for additional reinforcement in the bottom of a column. Casting boxes (recesses) associated with column shoes can be used repeatedly then their cost is very low. When a column is erected the joint between the column and footing should be grouted. The grouting can be done by means of an installed tube by a grouting mortar of non-shrinkage nature. Casting mould can be used repeatedly for the same column cross sections. Comparison: Concrete needed for a pocket and pocket reinforcement including its anchorage is not needed in case of column shoes. The volume of concrete filling is much larger then volume of grout. The weight of reinforcement needed for anchorage of the main column reinforcement in case of pocket foundation is considerably higher then additional reinforcement associated with application of column shoes. In a study performed by Eucentre in Pavia, Italy [4] it was concluded that if the possible foundation system is compared with a traditional one pocket foundation both under the same assumed design conditions, column shoe system results in about 20% less volume of concrete and about 30% less weight of steel.


fib Symposium PRAGUE 2011 Session 2B-9: Construction Technology


Cost of erection can be derived from number of workers involved and time needed for column fixing. Particularly important is period of time when crane is occupied by erection operation. We must relay on experience of contractors in this case. According to HOCHTIEF CZ, company that is familiar with both methods, necessary time for erection of columns can be approximately cut to one half when using column shoes.

Geometrical accuracy

Geometrical accuracy of column erection depends on capability of a system to correct various imperfections and deviations from ideal position of foundation footing. Let us look to adaptation possibilities in vertical direction and horizontal plane of both systems. Pocket foundations: Bottom of the pocket must be accommodated to required level before the erection. Steel plates are usually used for that operation. As far as adaptation in horizontal plane is concerned it is limited by width of joint between column and pocket walls. Usually 25 mm are allowed. If tolerance on fit is not satisfied adaptation is a pretty hard job. Column shoes: Column shoes system enables very easy rectification in vertical direction. Positioning of anchor bolts in horizontal plane should be done very carefully with 2 mm accuracy although there are methods how to make necessary adaptations. Comparison: When using system of column shoes it is easier to reach required position of columns in vertical direction and horizontal plane as well.


It is rather difficult to make objective cost comparison. There are many factors influencing the overall costs and many of them are dependent on construction site situation. Furthermore, there are different price levels in various countries. However, we believe that results of analysis carried out in the Czech Republic might be valid in other European countries as well. This analysis has proved cost advantage of column shoes in all studied cases not speaking about other advantages that are difficult to evaluate. Cost of column shoes represented 44 % to 90 % of the cost of pocket foundation.

[1] [2] [3] [4]
EN 1992-1-1:2004 Eurocode 2: Design of concrete structures Part 1-1: General rules and rules for buildings EN 1997-1:2004 Eurocode 7: Geotechnical design Part 1: General rules EN 14991:2007 Precast concrete products Foundation elements Bianco, L., Santagati, S., Bolognini, D., Nascimbene, R.: Seismic response of columns connected to the foundation through a fastening technique PEIKKO News 1/2009.

Dr. Vclav Vimmr

STU-K spol. s r.o. Saveljevova 1629/18, 147 00 Praha-Brank, Czech Republic +420 244 466 217 +420 244 461 536

Eng. Zahra Sharif, Ph.D.

STU-K spol. s r.o. Saveljevova 1629/18, 147 00 Praha-Brank, Czech Republic +420 244 466 217 +420 244 461 536