Design of the structure

Published on 30 January 2008
The structural plan...
...... and a perspective view of the installation
...... and a perspective view of the installation
(R.R Coyne et Bellier)

The design phase stretches over a number of years. It depends above all on a thoroughgoing knowledge of the physical environment:
- its hydrology (the watercourse system),
- its geology (throughout the region and on the site itself), as well as the mechanical characteristics of the ground areas that will serve as foundations.

In France, designers of dams can have recourse to a bank of information which is particularly detailed, thanks to generations of surveying and engineering.

Moreover, a project is often modified in the course of its construction. In actual fact, being in contact with the site itself will lead to acquisition of new data and adaptation of the structure as a result.

The different stages of a design

The design of the structure reaches differing levels of precision as the project becomes more advanced. These are primarily:
- Preliminary studies and a summary pre-project, where the feasibility of the structure is under investigation;
- A detailed file for the call for tender, allowing contractors to present their solutions for the realisation of the design.

Among these studies, on-site field work surveys play a vital role. The site itself is nothing less than a laboratory where the project engineering manager and the contractor try out solutions to the often unforeseen problems that they encounter.

Once the structure has been commissioned, monitoring of it will enable the hypotheses that have been put forward to be verified or corrected.