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Deep foundations are required to carry loads from a structure through weak compressible soils or fills on to stronger and less compressible soils or rocks at depth, or for functional reasons. These foundations are those founding too deeply below the finished ground surface for their base bearing capacity to be affected by surface conditions, this is usually at depths >3 m below finished ground level. Deep foundations can be used to transfer the loading to a deeper, more competent strata at depth if unsuitable soils are present near the surface.

The types of deep foundations in general use are as follows:

1) Basements

2) Buoyancy rafts (hollow box foundations)

3) Caissons

4) Cylinders

5) Shaft foundations

6) Piles

Basement foundations:

These are hollow substructures designed to provide working or storage space below ground level. The structural design is governed by their functional requirements rather than from considerations of the most efficient method of resisting external earth and hydrostatic pressures. They are constructed in place in open excavations.

Buoyancy rafts (hollow box foundations)

Buoyancy rafts are hollow substructures designed to provide a buoyant or semi-buoyant substructure beneath which the net loading on the soil is reduced to the desired low intensity. Buoyancy rafts can be designed to be sunk as caissons, they can also be constructed in place in open excavations.

Caissons foundations:

Caissons are hollow substructures designed to be constructed on or near the surface and then sunk as a single unit to their required level.



Cylinders are small single-cell caissons.

Shaft foundations:

Shaft foundations are constructed within deep excavations supported by lining constructed in place and subsequently filled with concrete or other pre-fabricated load-bearing units.

Pile foundations:


Pile foundations are relatively long and slender members constructed by driving preformed units to the desired founding level, or by driving or drilling-in tubes to the required depth – the tubes being filled with concrete before or during withdrawal or by drilling unlined or wholly or partly lined boreholes which are then filled with concrete.


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