LIFE - Low Impact Foundations

View and download the full report in PDF Format(2.0 Mb): LIFE  Report

Lead Partner


Gaia Architects



Buro Happold,

Kimmo Kuismanen (Architect),

John Kristofferson (Architect)



To investigate the potential of low impact foundations within the context of the other projects being undertaken in the study.

Summary of Report

  • The use of roundpole and foundation design splits into two parts: ground and low impact foundations.
  • The applications in Scotland and Norway/Lappland will vary greatly because of the ground conditions. The ground frost depth in Norway and Lappland can be as far as 2.5m, whilst in Scotland the situation is less severe.
  • In general it is perceived that roundpole will be used for temporary structures. It is evidently much simpler to construct low impact foundations for temporary structures than for permanent ones.
  • Preservation issues are not as important for temporary structures.
  • Timber piles need to be completely submerged in water to avoid rotting.
  • Charring of timber prevents rotting.
  • Various options include ground screws, metal spikes and rocks.
  • Treatment is necessary for foundation timbers in dry ground conditions.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Literature Review - Historical Precedent
3. Foundation Types and the Issue of Treatment
4. Conclusions