Skip to main content

Design Specifications for Diaphragm Wall: State of the Art


Recent upsurge in infrastructural development and expansion in urban area necessitates productive utilisation of underground space. To address this, it is appropriate to adopt diaphragm wall retaining structures. The design and construction of diaphragm walls require greater care and expertise. Unsatisfactory implementation of such structures will adversely affect the performance and cost-effectiveness of entire project. Not many standards are available at present that regulate the specific requirements of diaphragm walls. The existing standards refer to structural codes for reinforcement calculations. Hence, comparison of these standards and comprehensive study on the specifications applicable to diaphragm walls are necessary. In this research, different structural design codes are evaluated for their applications specific for diaphragm walls. The standards considered for the analysis and design of diaphragm walls include EN 1997-1, AS 4678, BS 8002, BS 8004, Canadian foundation engineering manual, IS 9556, ACI 318, AS 3600, BS 8110, BS EN 1538, CSA A23.3, EN 1992-1-1 and IS 456. These codes differ on design equations, safety factors, reinforcement ratios, moment capacity, etc., resulting in varied design loads and reinforcements. Comparisons and discussions are made based on calculated reinforcements to conclude that even though the concepts and methodologies are similar, there are major variations in design outcome. As both structural and geotechnical considerations are to be met for deep embedded structures, specifications more than those provided in structural codes should be counted. Based on the research, it is recommended to develop specific analysis and design procedures considering all the requirements of diaphragm walls.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. 1.

    Hawileh RA, Malhas F, Rahman A (2009) Comparison between ACI:318-05 and Eurocode 2 (EC2-94) in flexural concrete design. Struct Eng Mech 32(6):705–724.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Brown D, Wulleman T, Bottiau M (2016) A comparison of design practice of bored piles/drilled shafts between Europe and North America. J Deep Found Inst 10(2):54–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Tabsh SW (2013) Comparison between reinforced concrete designs based on the ACI 318 and BS 8110 codes. Struct Eng Mech 48(4):467–477.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Fenton GA, Naghibi F, Dundas D, Bathurst RJ, Griffith DV (2016) Reliability based geotechnical design in the 2014 Canadian highway bridge design code. Can Geotech J 53(2):236–251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    European Committee for Standardization (2004) EN 1992-1-1 Eurocode 2: design of concrete structures: part 1–1: general rules and rules for buildings, Brussels

  6. 6.

    American Concrete Institute (2014) ACI 318 building code requirements for structural concrete, Michigan

  7. 7.

    American Concrete Institute (2014) ACI SP-17 the reinforced concrete design handbook, vol 3, Michigan

  8. 8.

    Bureau of Indian Standards (2000) IS 456 code of practice for plain and reinforced concrete, New Delhi

  9. 9.

    Bureau of Indian Standards (1980) IS 9556 code of practice for design and construction of diaphragm walls, New Delhi

  10. 10.

    Bureau of Indian Standards (1980) SP 16 design aids for reinforced concrete to IS 456, New Delhi

  11. 11.

    Standards Australia (2009) AS 3600 concrete structures, Sydney

  12. 12.

    Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand (2002) AS/NZS 1170.1 structural design action part 1: permanent, imposed and other actions, Sydney

  13. 13.

    Standards Australia/Standards New Zealand (2002) AS/NZS 1170.0 structural design action: general principles, Sydney

  14. 14.

    Canadian Standards Association (2014) CSA A 23.3-14 design of concrete structures

  15. 15.

    British Standards Institution (1997) BS 8110 part 1: structural use of concrete—code of practice for design and construction, London

  16. 16.

    British Standards Institution (1985) BS 8110 part 3: structural use of concrete—design charts for singly reinforced beams, doubly reinforced beams and rectangular columns, London

  17. 17.

    British Standards Institution (2004) BS NA EN 1992-1-1 UK National Annex to Eurocode 2 design of concrete structures: general rules and rules for buildings, London

  18. 18.

    European Committee for Standardization (2010) BS EN 1538 execution of special geotechnical works: diaphragm walls, Brussels

  19. 19.

    European Committee for Standardization (2004) EN 1997-1 geotechnical design part 1: general rules, Brussels

  20. 20.

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (2012, 2016) LRFD bridge design specifications

  21. 21.

    Bureau of Indian Standards (1989) IS 4651 part 2: code of practice for planning and design of ports and harbours-earth pressures, New Delhi

  22. 22.

    Standards Australia (2002) AS 4678 earth retaining structures, Sydney

  23. 23.

    Standards Australia (2004) AS 5100.3 bridge design part 3: foundations and soil-supporting structures, Sydney

  24. 24.

    Canadian Geotechnical Society (2006) Canadian foundation engineering manual

  25. 25.

    Canadian Standards Association (2014) CAN/CSA-S6-14 Canadian highway bridge design code

  26. 26.

    British Standards Institution (2015) BS 8004 code of practice for foundations, London

  27. 27.

    British Standards Institution (2015) BS 8002 code of practice for earth retaining structures, London

  28. 28.

    Hsiung BCB (2009) A case study on the behaviour of a deep excavation in sand. Comput Geotech 36(4):665–675.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Sieminska-Lewandowska A, Mitew-Czajewska M (2007) Design of diaphragm walls according to EN 1997-1: 2004 Eurocode 7. In: Proceedings of the 14th European conference on soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering, pp. 291–296, Madrid

  30. 30.

    Craig RF (2004) Craig’s soil mechanics. CRC Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anu James.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

James, A., Kurian, B. Design Specifications for Diaphragm Wall: State of the Art. Indian Geotech J 50, 838–847 (2020).

Download citation


  • Deep excavation
  • Embedded structures
  • Diaphragm wall
  • Codes of practice
  • Safety coefficients