Oaks Designer Resource Guide 6.0 (Canada)

Segmental Retaining and Architectural Walls Segmental block walls and reinforced soil have been used for centuries (the most famous application is the Great Wall of China). Today’s Segmental Retaining and Architectural Walls are a modern version of this age-old technology. The diagram below lists the parts of a typical Segmental Retaining Wall, while diagrams on page 22 shows the five primary commercial Wall Classifications . Icons identify where each wall product is recommended for use in the Products pages.


Coping Units

Wall Batter (angle back from vertical)

Low Permeability Soil

Retained Soil

Wall Units

Compacted Reinforced Soil Zone

Geosynthetic Reinforcement

Gravel Fill (formerly drainage layer)

Leveling Pad

Foundation Soil

Drain Pipe

TIERED WALLS For each wall to be independent of the other, tiered walls need to be built using a 2:1 ratio, with the upper wall built a distance away from the lower wall of at least twice the height of the lower wall. As well, the upper wall must be equal to or less than the height of the lower wall. This is a general rule of thumb and exceptions do exist. When the distance between the lower and upper walls is less than twice the height of the lower wall, the walls become structurally dependent on each other. In this situation, it is important to take into account global stability - the resistance to overall mass movement of the whole segmental retaining wall system in a circular or sliding mode.

Dependent Terraced Walls

Independent Terraced Walls

Less than 2 x H

Medium Distance of 2 x H





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