Is it possible to build a house without foundations?

It has become customary for all building work to begin with deep foundations being excavated and installed before any construction takes place above ground. We know that foundations are an essential part of any building if we want it to stay upright for any extended period of time.

Looking back through history to the dawn of modern buildings, it was very clear that the lack of adequate foundations meant that homes were very unstable and were destined not to last long. Unstable homes lacking foundations were also the cause for a high rate of deaths due to collapses.

What do foundations do?

Buildings are able to support the downward force they project onto the ground without foundations, but unfortunately it cannot accommodate the sideways motion a building experiences. Along with the constantly fluctuating shape of the ground underneath due to expansion and contraction caused by temperature and weather changes, walls will soon start to fall into newly created gaps.

Foundations bypass the movement of the soft ground the building is built on by reaching down to more stable ground deep in the earth. This base rock is strong enough to support the weight of the building without any movement occurring, even with seasonal changes.

Are there any buildings without foundations?

Foundations are seen as the norm when it comes to any construction these days, but there are times when building designers have bypassed the need for foundations by finding alternate methods for supporting their buildings. Salisbury Cathedral is one well-known, substantial building constructed without adequate foundations. Salisbury Cathedral was built on marshy ground and uses a foundation positioned at just four feet to support its massive spire. This is accomplished by building on a raft within the soft ground; a technique which is able to provide enough support to large weights but is very difficult to install successfully.

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