2/2023 – The Terraforce Book of Ideas

A South African manufacturer with a passion for excellence and knowledge sharing, Terraforce has become a hallmark brand in the highly competitive precast concrete hollow core retaining block field. Proprietary by design, Terraforce blocks are engineered to perform, backed by close to four decades of dedicated research and development, which started with the S block in 1984.


Today, one of the mainstays in the series is the L range, available either with a smooth or textured surface (Standard or Rock Face option) and in flat or rounded shapes. These can be employed in combination to create landscaped terraces, mass gravity or composite retaining walls for embankments and erosion control, as well as for stormwater management, among many other applications.

“Given their complexity, the design and construction of many of these structures must be undertaken by a professionally registered engineer; so, to facilitate the process and add value, we developed our Maxiwall Pro design software, which is freely available to the market,” explains Holger Rust, head and founder of Terraforce.

Download it now!

Please register here to access the Book of Ideas and the two-part Terraforce Design Guide, “Section 1 Gravity Retaining Walls”, and “Section 2 Reinforced Soil Retaining Structures”, respectively. Should you have any questions contact us admin@terraforce.com

Over the years, Terraforce has also established a library of technical manuals for use by the industry, which can be downloaded from their website. One of the most recent and best known is the updated Terraforce Design Guide for segmental retaining walls, which is based on the company’s original 1992 version. The latest edition released in 2022 was developed with the participation of professionals in three countries in accordance with BS 8006 and SANS 207:2011.

Illustrations that inspire

“However, what we really want to bring across are the endless possibilities to environmentally engineer beautiful structures,” Holger continues.

This was the motivation for the manufacturer’s latest initiative – the Terraforce Book of Ideas – which showcases creative ways to install aesthetically appealing structures ranging from beach erosion works to culverts and bridges, staircases, pedestrian ramps, sports ground seating and amphitheatres.

“The key ingredient is that the Book of Ideas is highly visual and will appeal to technical and non-technical readers alike looking for inspiration,” Holger explains.

The insights shared feature South African, as well as international projects from diverse countries that include Australia, Canada, Egypt, Eswatini, Ghana, India, Lesotho, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Spain, the UAE and UK.

Eight fascinating chapters

The Book of Ideas has eight chapters, namely:

  • Chapter 1: Patterns and plantability – This provides an introduction to how Terraforce’s various systems can be formed. Examples include the use of round and flat face block combinations, plant box variations in sloping and horizontal patterns, plus drip irrigation lines to sustain vegetation. One of the case studies highlighted is the Jalila Children’s Hospital in Dubai – designed by South African firm Knutton Consulting – where an innovative noise barrier retaining wall was constructed, with plantable lines incorporated. A distinctive feature is the reversal of the blocks at intervals to achieve an optimal sound reduction effect.
    Terraforce Planter Box in Steep Wall
  • Chapter 2: Features and inclinations – This chapter looks more in-depth at design options, starting with foundation detailing and wall angles. More advanced designs demonstrate the possibilities in terms of varying inclinations and curves.
    Terraforce culvert and small bridge detail
  • Chapter 3: Corners – Whether to match the terrain or create a design element, corners are an integral part of most structures. This chapter looks at corner detail options, including multiple sharp corners, round V-shaped corners and corners without cutting blocks.

  • Chapter 4: Steps and stairs – This chapter opens with a practical guide on how to employ the interlocking Terraforce 4×4 Step Block system, with reference to case studies. The balance of the chapter explores design alternatives for retaining walls incorporating staircases employing the Terraforce L range system, at times in combination with the Terraforce 4×4 Step Block to form straightforward and intricate systems.
    Terraforce steps with L range blocks
  • Chapter 5: Seating – Steps and seating often go together; in this chapter, there are outstanding examples of arenas and amphitheatres designed and built for schools, communities and businesses. The 4×4 Step Block comes into its own here, with a detailed breakdown provided on installation techniques, as well as technical drawings of local and international projects.

  • Chapter 6: Contractor’s check list – Before any design gets to the build stage, however, a comprehensive series of processes and procedures must be followed to ensure safe retaining wall structures. That’s the core focus of this chapter, which drills down into crucial categories, namely: Retaining Wall Design, including when a design needs to be reviewed and signed off by a registered professional deemed competent in geotechnical engineering; Construction, itemising the essential sequence required to obtain a completion certificated; and Monitoring, Maintenance and Restrictions. In terms of the latter, once a structure is completed according to its design, any future alternation considered needs the engineer’s approval, where applicable. Routine structural inspection of reinforced soil structures is equally important, and records must be kept.

  • Chapter 7: Typical cross sections – This chapter contains examples of typical cross sections for retaining applications and underscores the level of engineering detail required as designs become more complex.

  • Chapter 8: DWG file index: Last but not least is a listing of almost all of technical drawings contained throughout the book. These are available on request as AutoCAD DWG files.

Innovation and quality

“We’ve always prided ourselves on innovation, and the Terraforce Book of Ideas illustrates this with real-world examples that optimise form and function to perfection,” adds Rust.

“Working with our licensees and the broader consulting engineering and specialist contracting community, we continue to push the boundaries of possibilities,” Rust concludes.

Download it now!

Please register here to access the Book of Ideas and the two-part Terraforce Design Guide, “Section 1 Gravity Retaining Walls”, and “Section 2 Reinforced Soil Retaining Structures”, respectively. Should you have any questions contact us admin@terraforce.com


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