Understanding Caisson Foundations & Its 2 Types

Understanding Caisson Foundations: A Deep Dive into Their Construction and Applications


Caisson foundations are vital components in civil engineering, providing robust support for structures in challenging soil conditions.

Whether you’re planning a bridge, pier, or any structure requiring stability in soft soils or high groundwater areas, understanding caisson foundations is crucial.

This article explores the construction process, types, applications, and benefits of caisson foundations.

What are Caisson Foundations?

Caisson foundations are deep structural elements designed to transfer building loads to more stable soil or rock layers deep beneath the ground surface.

They are used when shallow foundations are inadequate due to poor soil conditions near the surface.

Types of Caisson Foundations:

There are two primary types of caisson foundation:

Open Caissons (Pneumatic Caissons):

  • These sunk into place by excavating soil from inside the caisson while maintaining an open top.
  • Compressed air often used to stabilise the soil and prevent water ingress during construction.

Closed Caissons (Drilled Caissons):

  • These are constructed by drilling a hole into the ground and filling it with concrete or other reinforcing materials.
  • They provide robust support and commonly used in various construction projects.

Construction Process:

Open Caissons:

  • Excavation proceeds inside the caisson while it gradually lowered into place.
  • Compressed air is crucial to maintain stability and prevent water inflow.

Closed Caissons:

  • A hole drilled to the required depth, and then concrete or other materials poured into the drilled shaft.
  • This method ensures structural integrity and load-bearing capacity.

Applications of Caisson Foundations:

Caisson foundation are indispensable in the construction of:

  • Bridges and overpasses
  • Piers and docks
  • High-rise buildings in urban environments
  • Infrastructure projects where soil conditions are unstable or where high groundwater levels are a concern.

Advantages of Caisson Foundations:

  • Strength and Stability: They provide robust support for heavy structures and distribute loads effectively.
  • Versatility: Suitable for various soil conditions and depths, accommodating diverse construction needs.
  • Durability: Long-lasting solutions that withstand environmental challenges and ensure structural integrity over time.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Complex Construction: Requires specialized equipment and expertise, particularly for open caissons involving compressed air operations.
  • Cost and Time: Construction can be costly and time-consuming due to the need for precision and safety measures.
  • Risk Management: Mitigating risks associated with soil instability and water ingress during construction is critical.


In conclusion, caisson foundation play a pivotal role in modern construction, offering robust support and stability in challenging soil conditions.

Whether you’re planning a large-scale infrastructure project or a high-rise building, understanding the types, construction process, and applications of caisson foundation is essential for ensuring structural integrity and longevity.

By leveraging their strengths and addressing challenges effectively, engineers can implement reliable foundation solutions that meet the demands of complex construction projects.

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