Engineers Australia

Performance of footings in rock based on serviceabilityE.H. Davis Lecture 2007

C. M. Haberfield


Around the world, there is a demand for larger structures, tall buildings and large bridges. While good footing design is important for all structures, it is even more important in the case of large structures. Recent experience with footing design for tall buildings (e.g. Burj Al Alam development and Nakheel Tower in Dubai, the Gate of Kuwait in Kuwait, the City Centre Project in Bahrain and Eureka Tower and Freshwater Place in Melbourne) has shown the benefits of investing in footing planning, design and construction (Haberfield, 2011, Poulos and Bunce, 2007).

The footing systems for most of these projects include the use of deep bored piles or barrettes (piles of rectangular cross-section). Many use piled rafts where the piles, while acting to support the load, are primarily used to reduce settlements. A clear understanding of the factors controlling the behaviour of the footing system is needed to enable a good engineering design to be achieved. This starts with a sound understanding of the ground characteristics and individual pile performance, including adequate collection of data and testing. The best footing solution can then be found using recent improvements in data collection and analytical techniques, complex and highly capable computerbased models and the availability of high-speed computers.

This paper focuses on the axial performance of deep bored piles socketed into rock – both their individual performance and their performance as part of a larger footing system. Recent research and construction practice is discussed. In practically all cases, serviceability conditions control the behaviour of the footings. Methods of establishing the parameters for input into sophisticated computer programs are described. Application of the methods to case studies is included and it is shown that the behaviour of individual piles can be closely predicted. These developments lead to lower construction costs, better constructability and shortened construction time because of the better understanding of footing behaviour.