Performance-based design has slowly been adopted for the use in geotechnical design. In the future, various types of foundations suitable for a variety of soils and applications should be accepted as an alternative to conventional flat foundations for the increase of bearing capacity and the savings of materials. The concept of shells is not new in foundation design, considering the construction with inverted brick arch foundation. Shell foundations are economic alternatives to conventional flat foundations where heavy superstructural or lateral loads are to be transmitted to weaker soils. Various types of foundations with different geometrical shapes have been extensively investigated in the structural design. However, the corresponding studies on the geotechnical design in terms of bearing capacity and deformation are scare. As such the advantages of various types of foundations have not yet been clarified in terms of the geotechnical design. The objective of this paper is to examine the overall geotechnical performance of various types of foundations on sand using model loading tests and the numerical limit analysis. The general superiority of various types of foundations has been revealed by comparing the loading tests with the analytical results.