Geotechnical designs are rather well known for adopting approaches and assumptions which attempt to address uncertainties involved. Such uncertainties and challenges are caused by a number of factors such as inherent risks in variable ground conditions, limited site investigations and testing, unforeseen situations unknown at the time of designs, future conditions (e.g. climate change, long-term durability, etc.), construction workmanship and supervision. In the absence of site-specific geotechnical investigation data, many geotechnical engineers might resort to using overly conservative design parameters based on previous projects or correlations, or use over-conservative design assumptions as a mechanism to expedite the design approval process. However, when geotechnical designers are required to take on technical and commercial risks and be responsible for any consequences, conservatism may be seen as inevitable to protect themselves. In this friendly and professional debate session, different views on how over conservatism in geotechnical practice and key reasons supporting both sides of the arguments will be discussed. Panellists come from different sectors, facilitating a comprehensive and constructive discussion. This debate session ultimately aims to find opportunities to move toward optimised design and construction practices, which would be of a great national benefit towards more sustainable and resilient infrastructure and communities.
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