Helical Piles in Architectural Preservation

May 17, 2019 1:13 pm

Helical piles have been slowly but surely coming to note across the globe as people begin to realise how broad they can be in their application. Not only are helical piles the best choice for building on unstable ground, they’re also cost-effective and ecologically friendly and in recent years they’ve been proving themselves valuable in terms of the conservation of heritage sites.

The use of screw piles for the restoration of historic buildings has many advantages. One of the main concerns for teams involved in restoring heritage sites is that of preserving the historic fabric of the site, even that which is not visible. Another concern is minimising disruption or damage to any remaining structure and installing screw piles is one of the least invasive techniques for in particular, underpinning a building.

The lack of vibration is also an important consideration during restoration of particularly ancient or sensitive structures as even the slightest movement of an older building can cause massive internal or external damage.

One U.S. building was reconstructed with the help of helical piles and is now an important site for visitors and historians alike. On the Eastern shore of the Rappahannock River in Stafford County USA, the remains of the childhood home of George Washington, the very first president of the USA were slowly crumbling. Little remained of the 1720’s-built house and experts had accepted its loss. But with research and hard work, a team of archaeologists and engineers have rebuilt the house with the help of helical piles. The house was built in the exact spot it had once stood and by using helical piles, the building team did not need to excavate the historical remnants beneath. They wanted to leave the site as untouched as possible and helical piles anchored the building without any destruction.

In the UK, Forest Lodge, the beautiful gatehouse at the historically important Hulne Park estate was saved from a certain collapse with the use of helical piles which were installed in the west wing of the structure and put a stop to the settlement which had been gradually getting worse over the course of many years. Hulne Park is home to gardens which were designed by Capability Brown and also an ancient priory. The gatehouse was and is an important feature of the estate having been built in the mid-nineteenth century and served since then as a suitably grand entrance to a special place.

Helical piles offer a valuable contribution to the preservation of many important historical buildings and in the future, we can expect to see their use increase as more valuable buildings begin to show the marks of time.

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