Manchester Scholars Join Experts to Help Build Solid Foundations

Posted on January 5, 2018
Archive : January 2018
Category : Case Studies

This article features in the new edition of Geotopics, which looks back on our work throughout 2017. Click here to read the magazine, which also includes case studies from highways, rail and other sectors.  

When working on a new building at The University of Manchester, Geotechnics helped to turn the site into a classroom after inviting tutors and students to join the ground investigation. 

The Henry Royce Institute, the UK’s the national body promoting research and applications in advanced materials, is locating its £150m hub building into the heart of the University’s engineering campus. 

Geotechnics was commissioned by Manchester for the second phase of the ground investigation for the institute’s new state-of-the-art facility. 

Paul Hayes, Geotechnics’ North West Manager, took the opportunity to invite some of the University’s geology department onto site to see what was going on.

Paul explained: “By engaging with The University of Manchester in this way we were able to explain to the lecturers and geology students the value of good quality ground investigation as part of a risk management exercise. 

“We also highlighted the big part this work plays in understanding the ground while informing the design and its evolution, with the aim of reducing the level of uncertainty and ultimately cost.” 

Previous investigation work on the site had been undertaken using conventional triple tube rotary coring techniques and air/mist flushing medium - however, during fieldworks it became clear that the sandstone beneath the site was extremely weak.

Paul said: “In part, it had been weathered to a residual soil with limited cementation. At the depth of the proposed basement foundation level, most of the rock was recovered as sand. 

“We were able to improve core recovery by proposing an alternative technique - a GeoBor S Wireline system with a specialist Mazier-type barrel for coring in very soft and loose formations.” 

Paul also added: “Once we leave site our works are never physically seen as part of the finished product, but the importance of it should never be underestimated – others do indeed base their work upon ours as a foundation for the future”.

The new Royce building is set to open in 2020. It will be located next to the Alan Turing Building on Upper Brook Street, in close proximity to she Schools of Physics and Astronomy and Chemistry, as well as the £61m National Graphene Institute (NGI) and the £350m Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD), which is currently under construction.

The £235m Royce Institute is a hub and spoke model, with the hub at The University of Manchester and spokes at the founding partners: the universities of Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London, as well as the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).

The Royce will enable the UK to grow its world-leading research and innovation base in advanced materials technology that underpins all industrial sectors.

Research and industrial collaboration at the Royce is initially focused on nine core areas, with The University of Manchester championing four of these, including:

  • Two-dimensional Materials – such as graphene (which was isolated in Manchester in 2004)
  • Materials for Demanding Environments
  • Nuclear Materials
  • Biomedical Systems and Devices
The nine-storey building, designed by architects NBBJ, will contain state of the art equipment supporting these four core areas.

Paul Hayes is the Regional Manager for our Chester office. To find out more about our site investigation work in the North West, please email For more information about our work across the country, please contact our expert teams around the UK.