Alternative ground engineering solutions, such as those incorporating geogrids, can play a vital part in meeting the UK’s future housing needs. Jonathan Cook of Tensar explains.

country’s housing crisis. To ensure they can meet this target, it is crucial for housebuilders to maximise land use, minimise construction costs and deliver new homes as quickly as possible, while maintaining profitability.


This essentially boils down to mitigating risk – a large proportion of which is in the ground. It is incredibly difficult to predict every possible situation arising during construction, but designing to actual ground conditions can deliver more appropriate solutions, mitigate risks and ultimately add more value. This does not necessarily mean spending more money, but requires a change of approach from traditional solutions to acceptance of ‘alter- native’ value engineered designs. Geogrids, for example, have been used on thousands of residential schemes around the world and on hundreds of projects in the UK, allowing developers to build new homes and associated infrastructure over a wide range of ground conditions, particu- larly weak and saturated soils. However, designs incorporating geogrids are sometimes viewed as ‘new’ or ‘alterna- tive’ solutions and, as a result, are sometimes rejected in favour of more tradi- tional approaches. This is despite three decades of empirical evidence and independently-verified research demon- strating how geogrids have helped improve construction efficiency, mitigate risk and reduce delays. Geogrids can be, and have been, used at every stage of a housing project. They can control differential settlement in capping layers, maximise development space by creating steep slopes, deliver thinner and better-performing temporary access roads and working platforms, and can help build long-lasting and low-maintenance perma- nent roads.

MAXIMISING DEVELOPMENT SPACE With a shortage of suitable land for housing across the UK, housebuilders need to maximise available development space. This can mean creating a level area for construction, supported by perimeter

he UK Government is committed to building hundreds of thousands of homes a year to meet the

retaining walls, or steepening slopes on the edge of the site to extend the site’s useable area.

The conventional approach is to build reinforced concrete walls, but these can be expensive to build. Those using geogrid to reinforce soil behind block, gabion or vegetated facing, however, can deliver the same level of performance (and slope heights and angles). They are also faster and more economical to construct, with the added benefit that they provide a more aesthetically-pleasing finish. Reinforced soil structures can also serve as noise and visual barriers to both homeowners and those living next to the new development.

PROVIDING SAFE WORKING AREAS Providing safe working areas is critical on any construction project, particularly on weak and variable ground. Geogrids improve the performance of granular fill used for working platforms, increasing bearing capacity so the ground can support heavy loads from cranes and other construc- tion plant.

Load-spread designs incorporating geogrids, in line with ‘BR470: Use of ‘struc- tural geosynthetic reinforcement’ – A BRE review seven years on’, backed by perform-


ance testing, have been proven to deliver thinner platforms, shorten construction times and reduce materials use, compared with conventional approaches.


Much in the same way as working platforms, geogrids can be used to mechan- ically stabilise aggregate layers of unsurfaced access roads, improving their performance and enabling them to support construction traffic.

Once homes are finished, temporary roads can form the foundations of perma- nent infrastructure, including highways

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52