Innovative foundations

“The foundations of some of the engineering structures placed major challenges before us. ”, says Eric Leemans from Soetaert, the foundation expert that in the course of the construction period became part of Jan De Nul Group. The foundation of the railroad tunnel, for instance, required a level of corrosion resistance and load-bearing capacity that couldn’t be attained with conventional techniques. Even the soil mix technique, an innovative technique conceived by Soetaert, couldn’t offer a satisfactory solution.

"A nice compliment!"

“For the soil mix technique, we cut the soil loose and then mix it with reinforcing components to re-use that same soil as building material for water-inhibiting supporting walls. But this technique didn’t meet all requirements here. Therefore, we replaced the conventional steel reinforcement by pre-stressed prefabricated concrete piles. I have been told that railway infrastructure operators in Belgium are currently imposing the use of this technique, which we developed, as a standard requirement in their specifications. A nice compliment actually", he adds with a smile.

“We overcame many other difficulties such as, among others, the subsoil near Westkapelle, a combination of permeable polder soil and salty groundwater. Here, we used the soil mix technique up to a depth of 26 metre, combined with recoverable reinforcements to create closed building pits. Extremely sustainable when considering the amount of CO2 that is emitted for the production of equivalent steel.” 

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