1/2021 – Retaining wall excellence in Spain with Terraforce

When in mid-2020 Terraforce received the final images of a newly completed Terraforce earth retaining wall at the Salamanca Hospital, Salamanca, Spain, we were immediately struck by the technical excellence on display. Having followed the installation process step by step, this outstanding outcome is not surprising.

Beautifully curved Terraforce block wall, Salamanca Hospital, Spain

Beautifully curved Terraforce block wall, Salamanca Hospital, Spain

Beautifully curved Terraforce block wall, Salamanca Hospital, Spain

The completed project is pleasing to the eye, and the additional coping blocks, the fencing along the top, as well as the large rock strip lining the base

Terraforce wall running along the pedestrian strip at the hospital

Terraforce wall running along the pedestrian strip at the hospital

Skilled contractors are key to great Terraforce wall

Installed and designed (using the Terraforce Maxiwall Pro software) by ORBE Tecnicas Y Medioambiente, an environmental engineering company specialized in the construction of reinforced soil structures, the four Terraforce rock face finish retaining walls cover 2300 m² surface area, with a maximum height of 7,86 m.

Gravel foundation as designed by ORBE Tecnicas Y Medioambiente

Gravel foundation, designed with Maxiwall Pro by ORBE Tecnicas Y Medioambiente

Installation of drainage layer and geogrid reinforcing

Installation of drainage layer and geogrid reinforcing


Drainage outlets at regular intervals

Drainage outlets at regular intervals along the entire Terraforce rock face wall

Block rows in progress adjacent to a 2,5 m diameter drainpipe

Block rows in progress adjacent to a 2,5 m diameter drainpipe


Checking on inclination

Checking on inclination

Keeping the lines super neat!

Keeping the lines very neat!


Says Miguel Seller, Civil Engineer at ORBE Tecnicas Y Medioambiente: “The main retaining wall supports a new access road to the hospital, and in some sections special consideration had to be given to the placement of geogrids due to the presence of a large drainage pipe (2,5 m in diameter) near the visible face of the wall.

Facing challenges with confidence

“Another unique challenge was that we had to adapt the slope of the concrete block wall to meet another vertical wall, which was very complex from a topographical point of view. Another interesting technical aspect to highlight is that part of the Terraforce wall is set in a floodplain area of the river Tormes, so in those cases a permeable soil was used as the reinforced soil, with better geotechnical characteristics.”

The slope of the wall had to be adapted to meet another vertical wall

The slope of the wall had to be adapted to meet another vertical wall

The meeting point between walls was solved successfully

The meeting point between walls was solved successfully


Two walls are joined smoothly

The two retaining walls are joined smoothly

The wall nearing completion

The Terraforce earth retaining wall nearing completion

View of the curves form the side

View of the curves form the side

Quality Geogrids for extra strength 

Seller adds: “We used Huesker (Fortrac) geogrids with nominal tensions between 35 and 80 kN. The natural foundation ground was a slate soil, with 28º of internal friction, 10 kN / m2 of cohesion and 19.95 kN / m3 of specific weight. In the reinforced soil, we use a soil with 30º internal friction and a density of 20.00 kN / m3, of course without cohesion.”

The new road, Paseo de la Transición Española, adds a length of almost 600 meters to the existing road system and provides direct access to the hospital emergency zone. It also includes another central roundabout that allows access to the new hospital complex and future parking. Landscaping and a bicycle path are still to be completed.

The river Tormes in the background

The river Tormes in the background

The wall runs along a new access road, Paseo de la Transición Española

The retaining wall runs along a new access road, Paseo de la Transición Española

Without a doubt the completed project is pleasing to the eye, and the additional coping blocks, the fencing along the top, as well as the large rock strip lining the base add an eye-catching visual dimension to the wall.

Project Participants

Client: Salamanca City Council

Project Manager: Excelentísimo Ayuntamiento de Salamanca

Main Contractor: Ferrovial Construcción

Sub Contractor: ORBE Tecnicas Y Medioambiente

Block Supplier: Prensagra Prefabricados

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