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What is foundation?
A firm foundation is essential to a

buildings longevity and stability. To succeed structurally, a foundation must perform several functions at once. It must transmit vertical loads to bearing soil; distribute those loads over a large enough area; resist lateral forces, cracks, and leaks; and anchor the building against uplift building over a large enough area of soil to prevent settling.

A foundation must (1) support and distribute vertical loads from above, (2) support concentrated loads, (3) resist lateral forces, (4) anchor the building against uplift

Figure 1

A foundation must satisfy two design criteria:

i) ii)

It must not cause the underlying soil to fail in shear. It must not be subject to excessive settlement

Bearing capacity failure of an axially loaded column foundation

Differential settlement of the Campanile at Pisa

For small projects and the preliminary design of larger

projects, the values of the permissible bearing pressures in Table 1 can be used. These values should ensure that both the shear failure and the settlement criteria will be met.
The values must be used in conjunction with unfactored

Table 1 : Permissible soil bearing pressures (kN/m2)

Medium dense sand and gravel mix

Loose sand and gravel mix


Loose sand
Stiff clay Firm clay Soft clay

200 100 75

Sizing Footings A rule of thumb for sizing residential footings states that the footing should be twice as wide and equally as thick as the foundation wall (Figure 2). To determine whether your footing size is adequate, need to know the total load that will be imposed on each lineal foot.

Half the floor loads and all of

the roof load for one side of the building are transferred to the foundation wall. The central girder carries the other half of the floor load and transfers the load to individual column footings.

Figure 2. Typical

Foundation Construction

Lateral Forces

The earth not only resists the vertical loads imposed by the building, it also exerts sideways (lateral) forces of its own, which the foundation must resist.

In unfrozen ground, these loads are smallest near

the surface and increase as you go deeper (just like water pressure in scuba diving). Lateral force is the reason you should never backfill a foundation until the first floor is framed the floor keeps the tops of the foundation walls from toppling, while the keyway, vertical rebar pins, or slabs do the same at the bottom.

Lateral Forces In winter, another lateral force is created by frozen soil, which is one reason why good drainage is so important. The soil freezes hardest near the surface (particularly where perimeter insulation is used), but frozen soil at any depth can exert enormous pressure.

Examples of foundations and their selection


Provided a suitable bearing soil can be found near the surface, the foundations for the wall of low-rise domestic houses usually simple strip foundations or strip footings (Figure 4). They are normally unreinforced concrete.
Figure 4: A cavity wall on a strip foundation

Examples of foundations and their selection

2. For columns supporting relatively low loads, simple unreinforced square or rectangular foundations can be used. (Figure 5). These are referred to as mass concrete pad foundations.

Figure 5 : An unreinforced pad foundation

Examples of foundations and their selection

3. As loads increase, mass concrete pad foundations become less economic and reinforced concrete pad foundations are used. (Figure 6). The size of the pad depends upon the relationship between column load and the permissible ground bearing pressure.
Figure 6 : A reinforced pad foundation

Examples of foundations and their selection

4. If column loads increase to the point where the pad foundations are so big that the space between adjacent pad is less than the width of the pad themselves, then it becomes more economic to join the pads together to form a combined foundation.(Figure 7).
Figure 7 : A combined foundation

Examples of foundations and their selection

5. When the space between adjacent combined foundations becomes less than the foundation width, it becomes more economic to switch to a raft foundation.(Figure 8). Raft foundations are also useful for lightly loaded structures over very weak soil.
Figure 8 : A raft foundation

Examples 1
Figure 9 shows a plan view of the column layout of a multistorey building. Each column supports an unfactored axial load of 2000 kN. The soil at foundation level is stiff clay. Sketch a suitable form and size for the foundations.
Figure 9 : The plan of the column layout

From Table 1 for stiff clay Permissible bearing pressure = 200 kN/m2 Area of pad required = 2000/200 = 10 m2 Thus a suitable pad would be 10 = 3.2 m2 Space between pads = 5.0 -3.2 = 1.8 m This is less than the width of the pads, so try a combined foundation for the whole row of five columns: Area required = 5 x 2000 = 50 m2 200 Thus a suitable combined foundation would be 22 m x 2.3 m (50.6 m2)


Examples 2
A cavity wall for a domestic building has an overall of 275 mm. It supports a total unfactored load from the roof, floors and its own self-weight of 62 kN/m. The soil at foundation level is firm clay. Determine the dimension of a suitable unreinforced strip foundations.

Figure 10 : The proportion of unreinforced foundation

From Table 1 for firm clay Permissible bearing pressure = 100 kN/m2 Required width of strip = 62/100 = 0.62 m Projection from wall = 620 -275 = 173 mm 2 Use strip foundation 625 mm x 175 mm deep

Exercise 1
A 400 mm square concrete column supports the following characteristic loads: Characteristic dead load = 350 kN Characteristic imposed load = 275 kN Determine the dimension of a suitable unreinforced concrete pad foundations if the underlying is stiff clay. (Ans: 1.8 m x 1.8 m x 0.7 m deep)


To describe design procedure for pad


Design of foundation
Fundamental Stages

Calculate the plan area of the footing using serviceability loads. 2. Determine the reinforcement areas required for bending using ultimate loads 3. Check for punching, face and transverse shear failures


A 400 mm square column carries a dead load (Gk) of 900 kN and imposed load (Qk) of 300 kN. The safe bearing capacity of the soil is 150 kN/m2 Design a square pad footing to resist the loads assuming the following:Material strengths: fcu=35 N/mm2 fy =460 N/mm2 Assume no shear reinforcement is required.

727 0.95 0.95

Exercise 2
A 325 mm square concrete column supports the following characteristic loads: Characteristic dead load = 758 kN Characteristic imposed load = 630 kN Determine the dimensions and reinforcement for a suitable square pad foundations if it bears on stiff clay. fcu = 30 N/mm2, fy = 460 N/mm2, cover = 50 mm