Lyons O'Neill

Focus on: Site context

There’s more to a site than first meets the eye but it’s crucial to understand these hidden features if you’re to build a safe, stable and long-lasting structure. Whether it’s site sloping, the load paths of existing structures or water drainage, a thorough site investigation is an absolutely vital part of the engineering process. It’s only by doing your homework and fully understanding a site’s context that you’ll be able to find the best and most cost effective solutions to cater to each client’s needs.

There are a number of factors that must be considered when drawing up plans with the design team. Before work can begin you need to know about the properties of the soil and environment as well as the capabilities of any existing structures you’ll be working with. A geotechnical survey is conducted to examine soil properties and mechanics, which will influence the foundation solution for any new building work. It’s also crucial to understand the load paths within existing structures to find areas of weakness which need to be worked around when adding new elements. This in-depth understanding of context is especially important when it comes to projects involving listed and historic buildings, which involve the tricky balancing act of sensitively preserving original features whilst updating facilities. Failing to properly understand a site may lead to engineering solutions which cause damage to the surrounding environment and existing structures, create an unstable structure or simply are unnecessarily costly.

At Lyons O’Neill we are always looking for marginal gains to help us create and communicate designs as the project progresses, but technology also has a large role to play in the initial understanding of a site. We use 3D point cloud surveys to help us capture site specific data and incidental data surrounding the site, which allows us to extract extremely accurate insights about the site context. This understanding helps us treat each project with a bespoke approach and create structures which perfectly fulfil the client brief.