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Structural design of foundations

Objective

shear stress on this critical section.

In this lecture we will learn how to calculate the shear stresses and bending moments

in a spread foundation such that its structural elements can be designed.

Figure 1

v=

Introduction

The foundation forms the link between the man-made structure and the natural soil

and is part of a whole area of geotechnical and structural engineering called soilstructure interaction. It is a complex subject because structural materials such as

concrete and steel have very different properties from naturally occurring soil yet the

stresses in each must interact to support the structure until equilibrium is reached

and without excessive deflection of the soil or structure. This is further complicated

by the variability of the natural soil and the variability of loads in a structure.

column

load

critical section at a distance of 1.5t from the faces of the

column (where t = thickness of pad foundation).

(Vd BL )(BL A)

(2 x + 2 y + 2 1.5t )d

where A is the area within the critical section and d is the effective depth of the pad.

column load, Vd

reinforcement

lightweight buildings, and this was quite common for older buildings. However, these

days and with larger buildings it is more usual to use reinforced concrete. This means

that an element of reinforced concrete design is needed for the foundations.

1.5t

d

Blinding

Blinding is a thin layer of lean mix (low cement content) concrete that is laid over the

soil at foundation level before construction of the foundation. It creates a clean, dry

surface on which to assemble the reinforcing bars of the foundation and to pack the

steel bars for cover. It also protects the soil from deterioration due to rain and sun.

Area, A

Pad foundations

These rectangular foundations are used to support single column loads. There are

three elements to the structural design of a pad foundation:

1.5t

punching shear

b) estimate maximum bending moment for reinforcement design

c) check maximum shear stress.

The procedure for determining shear stresses and bending moments for each of

these is described below. For verifying ultimate limit states refer to your Reinforced

Concrete Design lecture notes and EN1992. If the design vertical load Vd is used in

these calculations, then the resulting values of bending moment and shear stress will

be design values ready for verification in accordance with EN1992.

Bending moment

Thus,

Assume that the column load is distributed evenly over the base of the pad (as the

bearing pressure qd). The maximum bending moment occurs on the critical section

(Figure 3) below the face of the column. The bending moment is calculated from the

moment of the total bearing pressure on the area of the pad on one side of the critical

section.

v=

q d cL

Ld

Raft foundations

Thus,

Md = Vd/A x f x f/2

economical and more convenient to install one foundation that supports the whole

building. This is called a raft foundation (Figure 4).

column load, Vd

critical section for bending

critical section for shear

reinforcement

Large

column

load

1.5d

d

f

section under large column loads

They are also used on soils with low bearing resistance in order to distribute loads to

the soil more effectively and where it is necessary to avoid differential settlement

between columns. These types of foundations are also common in Cyprus because

they provide a stiff foundation that increases the seismic resistance of buildings.

Mesh reinforcement is installed in the top and bottom of the section across the entire

raft in order to resist bending moment at any point. For larger buildings where column

loads are high, the depth of the raft section can be increased locally below columns

(Figure 5) in order to increase moment resistance.

Structural design

The structural design of raft foundations is highly complex. We cannot assume (like

for the pad foundation) that the raft acts as an inverted slab with maximum bearing

pressure this would lead to an expensive design and a very stiff raft.

Shear stress

For pads of uniform thickness, the maximum shear stress occurs on a critical section

1.5 x effective depth from the face of the column (Figure 3). As for bending moment

above, assume that the column load is distributed evenly over the base of the pad.

The shear stress is calculated from the total bearing pressure to one side of the

critical section divided by the area on the critical section.

Column loads vary and so does soil stiffness. These create deformations in the raft

and in the soil. If the raft is very stiff, it will not deform with the soil and instead of

being supported everywhere by the soil, the raft will try to span the depressions in the

soil. This creates very high bending moment and shear force in the raft which needs

a deeper section and more reinforcement, thereby making the raft even stiffer, and

so on.

A balance needs to be made between having a stiff, expensive raft with minimal

deflections in the building and having a cheaper, more flexible raft with more

deflection in the building.

more differential

settlement,

more deflection in

structure

low raft

stiffness

high raft

stiffness

cheaper raft,

cracking in raft

unlikely

less differential

settlement,

less deflection in

structure

expensive raft,

cracking of raft

more likely

The geotechnical engineer needs to estimate the total and differential settlement of

the foundation. The structural engineer and architect need to allow for deflections in

their designs. The raft foundation is then designed to achieve the deflection limits in

the building.

The design of raft foundations cannot be achieved effectively by simplified methods,

as with pad foundations. Due to the interactions between the soil stiffness and raft

stiffness (soil-structure interaction) and the multiple column loads, such designs are

best performed by finite element methods.

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