Our team is highly experienced in investigating, analysing, testing and managing the movement of earth and other material around a site to establish formation levels for building and landscaping.  This can involve importing material as well as removal of surplus material leading to ground improvements covering methods of improving the engineering properties of the ground.

We have strong terrain modelling capabilities that enable us to optimise earthworks associated with re-profiling the landscape. This allows us to produce resource efficient designs that respond to the local environment.

We address all aspects of settlement: Settlement subsidence in which there is a change in ground level because of load applied by building or changing groundwater regime. The risk is that it causes cracking in buildings. Differential settlement is the rate of settlement that varies across the site/building which is a major cause of cracking. Angular distortion is a change in angle of a building with the ground, caused by differential settlement. Total settlement is the maximum settlement across building: cracks unlikely if whole building settles by same amount but services may be affected.

We have expertise in identifying, analysing and managing risk of running sand which occurs where loosely packed sand becomes fluidised and swept away by water flowing through the spaces between the grains.

Responding to specific site requirements, we engage in geotechnical centrifuge testing as a well-established method of reliably modeling the behaviour of geotechnical materials at small scale. The ability to deal with diverse unstable conditions is a core skill base for the team. We have built up expertise working with meta stable soils prevalent in the Middle East and other hot arid environments. These soils have been deposited by gentle accumulation such as wind-blown deposits and have a porous structure. When water evaporates slight cementation can occur. On re-wetting with irrigation the cementation is lost and significant settlement occurs. Soils can also collapse if disturbance occurs due to seismic shock or pile driving. During ground investigation the Inundated Plate Load Test can be used to identify this problem.

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Al Ha’ir Lakes is the fifth and final zone of Wadi Hanifah. Located 25km downstream of Riyadh, Al Ha’ir is at the end of the wadi catchment and receives the greatest amount of water flow in the Wadi. Working with the client, we identified the Lakes District site as a valuable open space resource for the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh.

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BuroHappold is currently working on the 70 acre development in the Imbi area fronting Jalan Tun Razak. The Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) is a key enabler to strengthen the position of Kuala Lumpur as the global financial city of choice. TRX aims to bring together leading financial institutions and top global companies to create a catalytic pool of world-class players. 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) is the Master Developer for TRX.

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Stratford Town City Link was a proposal for a new state of the art pedestrian bridge over a railway that links Stratford station in east London to a new shopping complex developed by Westfield.

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The site of the Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City development is adjacent to the Arabian Gulf coastline, 85km south of Kuwait City. From two environmentally impoverished hyper saline creeks, an ecologically rich waterway city is growing....

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Wadi Hanifah is a 120km long, 4500km2 watershed that passes through the capital city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Located in the middle of the Najd Plateau it has been labelled the most significant natural feature in the region.

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Key contact

Andy Murdoch


  • work+44 2079 279 700