Autumn 2014

Piling it on at ‘The Pearl’

Strainstall creates new testing process for higher-than-ever test loads in Qatar.

When the team at Strainstall were asked to devise a new load testing facility for Ammico in Qatar they knew they faced a tough challenge.

Senior engineer, Don Albero worked with Mark Jeff Garcia, a full-time technician based in Qatar to create and perfect a new testing technique called Bi-Directional Static Load (BDSL) to check the strength of huge foundation piles supporting buildings on Qatar’s artificial island development – The Pearl.

Together, Albero and Garcia conducted four separate BDSL tests on piles 1.5m in diameter and 15m long, loaded with up to 10,000 tonnes – this is the highest test load ever conducted in the country for a 15m pile.

They cleverly designed BDSL to use a sacrificial hydraulic load cell installed within the pile to provide separate information on its end-bearing and frictional resistance. What’s more, preparation takes only a few hours and there is no need for overhead beams because the load is applied from within the pile, which makes it more cost effective than conventional load testing.

These tests, part of a £100,000 contract, follows inspections carried out last year by the company on one of Abraj Quartier’s “Gateway Towers”, which, at 201m-high, are the tallest buildings in the development. The contract, for NSCC International, was worth more than £150,000. And the success looks set to continue with another recent order from Ammico.

An artificial island in the Gulf, The Pearl is 350 miles offshore of Doha’s West Bay neighbourhood. Built on one of Qatar’s major pearl diving sites, it will create almost 20 miles (32km) of new coastline and include residential and retail areas, hotels and a marina. It consists of ten precincts, including Abraj Quartier, a development of seven residential towers and town houses.

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