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Advance Design of RC Structure

Lecture 11
Retaining walls

Dr. Ali Tayeh

Retaining walls
A retaining wall is a structure built for the purpose of holding back or
retaining or providing one-sided lateral confinement of soil or other
loose material. The loose material being retained pushes against the
wall, tending to overturn and slide it. Retaining walls are used in
many design situations where there are abrupt changes in the ground
slope. Such situations occurred when the width of an excavation, cut,
or embankment is restricted by conditions of ownership, use of the
structure, or economy.
Types of retaining walls:
These structures are commonly used in construction projects
and may be classified generally as:
1. Gravity retaining walls.
3. Cantilever retaining walls.
4. Counter fort retaining walls.
1. Gravity Retaining Walls
Gravity retaining walls are constructed with plane concrete or stone
masonry. They depend on their own weight and any soil resting on the
masonry for stability. This type of construction is not economical for high

In many cases, a small amount of steel may be used for the construction of
gravity walls, thereby minimizing the size of the wall sections. Such walls
are generally referred to as semi-gravity walls.
2. Cantilever Retaining Walls
Are made of reinforced concrete that consists of a thin stem and base slab.
This type of wall is economical to a height of about 25ft (8m).

:Counter fort Retaining Walls. 3

Are similar to cantilever walls. At regular intervals, however, they have thin
vertical concrete slabs known as counter forts that tie the wall and the base
slab together. The purpose of counter forts is to reduce the shear and the
bending moments. To design retaining wall properly, an engineer must
know the basic soil parameters, which are the unit weight, angle of friction,
and cohesion.
Retaining walls
Types of retaining walls:

Gravity retaining wall depends entirely on its own weight to provide

the necessary stability. Semi gravity retaining wall use in it very light
reinforcement. Cantilever retaining wall it is a reinforced concrete.
Counterfort retaining wall.
In buildings, retaining walls are usually temporary cantilevers, which
are later propped by the adjoining floors, so the analysis of the wall is
simply support because the construction of floor is before the backfill
of the soil.

(a) Gravity, (b) Semi gravity, (c) Cantilever, (d) Counterfort.

Retaining walls
Loads on retaining walls:

Downward load due to the own weight of the wall and base, and the
weight of the soil resting directly on the base (considered as dead
load and subjected to load factor1,2). In addition to any
surcharge that may exist, (considered as live load and subjected to
load factor1.6).
Lateral pressure produced by the soil retained behind the wall and
that in front of the toe and the key, (considered as live load and
subjected to load factor1.6).
Upward pressure developed below the base as a result of the applied
downward and lateral load, (they are subjected to load
Horizontal frictional force developed on the plane of contact
between the base and the soil below as the retaining wall tends to
slide ferward.
Retaining walls
Lateral pressure on retaining wall:

The actual pressures that occur behind retaining walls are quite difficult
to estimate because of the large number of variables. On the assumption
that soil is dry and granular (noncohesive), and its surface is horizontal
and free from any surcharge, the lateral pressure exerted by the soil on
retaining wall is termed active earth pressure (P a)
Retaining walls
Lateral pressure on retaining wall:
pa Ca wh
The pressure developed by the soil in front of the wall and the key, if
provided, as the wall leans against the soil is termed passive earth
p p C p wh '

Where Ca and Cp are the approximate coefficients of active and passive

pressure is the unit weight of the soil, h is the distance from the
surface to the point of question.
If the backfill be horizontal, the value of Ca and Cp are:
1 sin
1 sin is the angle of internal friction of soil
. Where:
1 sin
1 sin
Retaining walls
Lateral pressure on retaining wall:

The total active horizontal pressure is given by:

C a wh 2
If there is surcharge pressure, the total horizontal
surcharge pressure acting to the wall is given by:

H s C aWh

This force acts through the centroid of the uniform pressure

distribution diagram, i.e. at h/2 above the bottom of the base.
Note: In building the wall may be restrained, so C o (at rest) is
Retaining walls
Stability requirement

To check stability of retaining wall, the following steps are necessary:

Check for overturning about its toe.

F .S overturning
Check for sliding failure along its base.

F .S sliding
To have a good sliding resistance, the key be used below the base of
retaining wall.
Check for bearing capacity of soil.

q max q all
Check for over all instability (slope instability).