Beams on foundations and piles resisting by surrounding soil are significantly complex due to the behavior of the surrounding semi-infinite soil media. Winkler’s model is the simplest element that account for the behavior of both the foundation and soil. The Winkler model is the one-parameter model which assumes the foundation reaction at a particular point is proportional to the soil displacement. Most of the existing elements assume the soil to be tensionless or even elastic. In reality, the soil cohesiveness plays an important role in the behavior of foundation elements. In this paper a new finite element formulation was developed in which the soil can be viewed as an inelastic element with a combination of cohesive behavior that transmits rotations due to bending, in addition to the well-known Winkler effect known as the two-parameter model. The non linear response of structures resting on this improved foundation model is analyzed following a Pasternak approach with improved soil parameters. The soil parameters are evaluated by an internal iteration which depends upon the loading and foundation parameters. Parametric analyses of a foundation element have been carried out and comparisons were made between different foundation parameters. The numerical performance of the element was further enhanced by adopting the newly developed mixed finite element formulation with fiber discretization. The presented solutions and applications show the superiority of the element in simulating the complex response of foundation structures.

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