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European Reinforced Soil Design


The introduction of EuroCodes for the design of civil engineering works has necessitated all countries in Europe to review the methods used in design of works including geosynthetics. All geotechnical design must be carried out using the methods described in EN1997-1 Geotechnical Design and the associated National Application Documents. EN1997-1 does not include specific procedures for the design of soil structures which include reinforcing geosynthetics, to ensure that national standards comply with European Regulations some countries have revised previous design codes.

This paper presents a review of the three principle updated design codes published in 2010 from the UK, Germany and France comparing the similarities and highlighting the differences by using a worked example for a faced retaining wall and providing comment on the current status to develop a single European design guide for reinforced soil.

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Three European design guides have been compared

to highlight their similarities and differences. The design principles in each

code are similar and follow the ‘limit state’ concept and consider ultimate

limit states (ULSs) and serviceability limit states (SLSs). Similar load

factors are applied to the actions (disturbing forces) to increase their value

and partial material factors are applied to resistances (restoring forces) to

reduce their values broadly in line with the principals in Eurocode 7. Although

principal differences exist in how each code applies the load and resistance

factors. Currently differences exist in how each code determines the long term

design strength for the geogrid reinforcement resulting in variation in the

long term design strength for identical geogrids, The comparison of three

European standards / recommendations for the design of reinforced soil

retaining structures has demonstrated that there is quite significant

discrepancy between the resulting geogrid requirements

for the identical wall example. One of the aims of ongoing collaborative

efforts will be to try to agree on the common design procedure and partial

factors to be applied in determining the overall required forces and to

eliminate the variance in available long-term design strength by reaching a

consensus on the most appropriate method for the determination of the long term

design strength of the geogrids.