The ways in which real structures, such as offshore wind turbines, large span bridges, rail tracks, nuclear power plants and buildings, actually interact with their foundations and the surrounding soil are still inadequately understood. The resulting conservatisms in design, construction and operation, drive up costs and inhibit innovation. The National Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction (SoFSI) facility will take advantage of world leading control and actuation technologies, developed in Bristol’s BLADE laboratories, which now enable well-controlled experiments on prototype, or near-prototype, scale SoFSI specimens. Such tests will fill key gaps in understanding of the fundamental mechanics of these systems, which cannot be resolved using conventional, smaller scale, laboratory tests or prototype observations. The new, highly adaptable and extensible SoFSI facility will also deliver a unique, high value, capability for de-risking investments in innovation and development, for example in life-extension techniques for existing infrastructure or the application of new materials and devices.
A major new 5-storey height laboratory and external compound will accommodate an actively controlled, reconfigurable, c7.5m x 7.5m x 15m flexible box, supported on a 1000 tonne shaking table augmented with strong walls, strong floors and a portfolio of actuators.