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Reuse of foundations
21/1/05
The Re-use of Foundations for Urban Sites (RuFUS) is a European Union funded research project to develop guidelines that will allow foundations to be reused more often

RuFUS is co-ordinated by BRE, and project partners are Arup and Cementation Foundations Skanska from the UK, Soletanche-Bachy from France, the Technical University of Darmstadt and Federal Institute for Material Testing and Research (BAM) from Germany, consultant Stamatapoulos Associates of Greece and the Swedish Geotechnical Institute.

The Euro 3.5M match-funded project kicked off in early 2003 and is due to last three years. It will culminate in an international conference to be held probably in London in early 2006 at which the final research and guidance on foundation reuse will be published, as well as a suite of papers demonstrating the successful reuse of foundations for a wide range of projects.

BRE’s Tony Butcher says: “A major part of the RuFUS initiative is demonstrating to construction project teams that foundation reuse is a viable alternative. All the participants in a new development need to believe that the technique is not completely novel.” This includes the structural and geotechnical design engineers, checking authorities such as Building Control departments in the UK, the project promoter, funders and prospective insurers.

One of the big problems foundation engineers face when looking to reuse foundations is that as-built construction records are typically very poor. Part of RuFUS will set out the need to make and preserve decent records during construction and establish a common storage medium.

Chapman says: “You often find that on any site about 5% of the piles have “personality” because significant issues have arisen during their installation and testing.” And although everybody on site at the time of construction will know about these anomalous areas, come back in 20 years and all that knowledge will be lost and forgotten.”

He maintains that at the end of a project it would only take a few days for a junior engineer to produce a report that detailed all the site problems and how they were closed out.

While this information could prove extremely valuable during the life of the new building – if for example structural alterations are needed – it becomes priceless when the building next undergoes full-scale redevelopment. “People should already be thinking along these lines – it’s a real no-brainer,” says Chapman.

He also feels that the likelihood that new foundations going in today will be reused in the future, increases the need for independent verification – a view which is at odds with recent moves to self certification.

Another aim of RuFUS is to develop new instrumentation for “smart” foundations, which will monitor foundation behaviour during use for direct comparison with the design behaviour. “This will show the in-service performance of the foundation, the distribution of loads and the change in distribution with time. These data – in conjunction with better preservation of piling records – will serve to facilitate any future reuse during redevelopment of the site,” says Butcher.

Further information on the project can be accessed at: http://www.webforum.com/rufus/.The RuFUS project team welcomes feedback from anyone with an interest in the process or with relevant experience that they wish to share. Please contact Tony Butcher at BRE by email butchert@bre.co.uk or phone +44 (0)1923 664831