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Shafts

Photo: Donaldson Associates

The interaction of ground and structure is never more apparent than in the design of a shaft. The inseparable relationship between the ground, the shaft sinking method and the shaft design is a perfect example of the importance of considering temporary and permanent works as parts of one design and construction process.

COWI UK Limited works closely with contractors and employers to ensure safe, efficient and functional designs, applying our deep technical knowledge and experience of shaft sinking to manage and mitigate ground risk. Design solutions include groundwater control, evaluation of construction methods, selection of appropriate construction techniques, and design of initial and final shaft and tunnel linings.

Ground risk

Identifying relevant ground investigation for soil parameters and ground water conditions as well as wider site constraints, informs the design and construction process. Our engineers develop a ground risk register in parallel with a detailed ground model.

Contractor relationships

Working closely with contractors, we choose the right structural and construction solutions, reflecting site and ground conditions. We have extensive experience of shaft sinking in every ground condition from soft, highly variable soils to hard rock.


We have designed shafts in congested urban environments, highly constrained sites and wide-open rural settings. We understand the importance of listening to the specialist shaft-sinking contractor and working as a part of the team to develop the most appropriate solution.

End use

Our wider engineering experience of infrastructure and utility projects allows our teams to integrate the end users' needs with a buildable low risk design, to deliver inherently safer operation and maintenance as well as construction.


We can design the shaft, associated tunnels and infrastructure or utility systems that make up the wider project. We have considerable experience designing temporary shafts for TBM launch and recovery, access and ventilation shafts for tunnel and metro systems, storage shafts for storm-water, materials handling or accommodation of pumping stations.

LAST UPDATED: 22.12.2016