1st Edition

The Observational Method in Civil Engineering Minimising Risk, Maximising Economy

By Alan Powderham, Anthony O'Brien Copyright 2021
    376 Pages 218 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    376 Pages 218 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    The Observational Method (OM) is a natural and powerful technique that maximises economy while assuring safety. Its key features are highlighted in The Observational Method in Civil Engineering through twelve case histories from major infrastructure projects. They cover protection of adjacent structures including buildings and railway systems, bored and jacked tunnels, shafts and cofferdams, retaining walls, embankments, deep foundations, ground improvement and groundwater control. They illustrate how the OM can achieve more effective collaboration between the client and the design and construction teams, as well as how it can enhance the industry’s ability to learn from experience, thus improving future practice and stimulating innovation.

    Despite these advantages, the OM is significantly underused. The book demonstrates how the full potential of the OM can overcome a wide range of concerns and constraints. Other chapters address the advantages and limitations of the OM, the key role of progressive modification, the art of achieving agreement and the commercial and contractual environment.

    The book will appeal to a range of construction professionals, including civil, structural and geotechnical engineers, contractors and owners. It will also be of interest to students and researchers.

    1. The art of achieving agreement

    2. Channel Tunnel cut and cover works

    3. Mansion House

    4. Limehouse Link

    5. Heathrow Express Cofferdam

    6. Heathrow Airport Multi-storey Carpark 1A

    7. Boston Central Artery Tunnel Jacking

    8. Irlam Railway Embankment

    9. Heathrow Airport Airside Road Tunnel

    10. Raising the 133m High Triumphal Arch at the New Wembley Stadium

    11. Crossrail Blomfield Box

    12. Crossrail Moorgate Shaft

    13. Reflections on the advantages and limitations of the Observational Method

    14. Some observations on the way forward


    Alan Powderham is a former Director of Transportation of Mott MacDonald and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Structural Engineers. Over the past four decades he has taken a leading role in the development and application of the Observational Method and pioneered many award-winning innovations in the design and construction of major infrastructure projects including the Channel Tunnel and the Boston Central Artery. He has served on many technical committees and, as a Visiting Professor at Imperial College, has supported research in foundation engineering.

    Anthony O’Brien is Mott MacDonald’s Global Practice Leader for Geotechnics and has over thirty years of international experience for transportation, water and energy projects. He has led geotechnical design teams through major projects in the UK, North America, central and south-east Asia. As a Visiting Professor at Southampton University he has led applied research in earthworks behaviour, soil dynamics and soil-structure interaction. He actively contributes to the work of professional committees and provides industry guidance, notably in the fields of advanced numerical modelling, retaining walls, foundation engineering and earthworks asset management.

    'This informative and excellent book by two very experienced authors will be of interest to civil, structural and geotechnical engineers, both in design and contracting organisations, and also to owners. The wide variety of case histories will serve as comprehensive and authoritative reference sources for those seeking to understand and implement the Observational Method.'

    Professor Lord Robert Mair CBE FREng FICE FRS NAE