Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Structures or other constructed works are supported on the earth by foundations. The word “foundation” may mean the earth itself, something placed in or on the earth to provide support, or a combination of the earth and the elements placed on it. The foundation for a multistory office building could be a combination of concrete footings and the soil or rock on which the footings are supported. The foundation for an earth-fill dam would be the natural soil or rock on which the dam is placed. Concrete footings or piles and pile caps are often referred to as foundations without including the soil or rock on which or in which they are placed. The installed elements and the natural soil or rock of the earth form a foundation system; the soil and rock provide the ultimate support of the system. Foundations that are installed may be either soil-bearing or rock-bearing. The reactions of the soil or rock to the imposed loads generally determine how well the foundation system functions. In designing the installed portions, the designer must determine the safe pressure which can be used on the soil or rock and the amount of total settlement and differential settlement which the structure can withstand.
The installed parts of the foundation system may be footings, mat foundations, slab foundations, and caissons or piles, all of which are used to transfer load from a superstructure into the earth. These parts, which transmit load from the superstructure to the earth, are called the substructure (see illustration).
Footings or spread foundations are used to spread the loads from columns or walls to the underlying soil or rock. Normally, footings are constructed of reinforced concrete; however, under some circumstances they may be constructed of plain concrete or masonry. When each footing supports only one column, it is square. Footings supporting two columns are called combined footings and may be either rectangular or trapezoidal. Cantilever footings are used to carry loads from two columns, with one column and one end of the footing placed against a building line or exterior wall. Footings supporting walls are continuous footings.
Mat or raft foundations are large, thick, and usually heavily reinforced concrete mats which transfer loads from a number of columns or columns and walls to the underlying soil or rock. Mats are also combined footings, but are much larger than a footing supporting two columns. They are continuous footings and are designed to transfer a relatively uniform pressure to the underlying soil or rock.
Slab foundations are used for light structures wherein the columns and walls are supported directly on the floor slab. The floor slab is thickened and more heavily reinforced at the places where the column and wall loads are imposed. See Caisson foundation, Retaining wall