Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  01 Dec 2010

BUILDING: How To Turn A Neat Corner


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE conception of Terraforce segmental retaining walls (SRWs) in the late 1970s for a more cost-effective and versatile method of retaining heavily contoured ground, was probably inevitable, considering that the conventional methods were cumbersome and expensive. Today a range of modular retaining systems competes with reinforced concrete walls. Most of these are quicker and simpler to build and more interesting and pleasing to the eye.

In addition, SRWs allow the incorporation of features such as graceful radiuses, 90-degree corners, terraces, stairs and columns; details that are difficult and costly to construct when using more conventional, in-situ concrete retaining systems. Corners are of particular interest to retaining wall designers; as some systems offer corner blocks and others function as ‘one block systems’ that can cater for inside and outside corners without a specially designed corner block.

Locally, the Terraforce Retaining Wall System pioneered the one-block system idea, which translates into low inventory requirements and simplified logistics. No corner blocks are required which reflects the cost-effective nature of the system.

For the most part, rounded outward facing curves that function as wider corners can easily be achieved by adjusting the horizontal interlock of each adjacent Terraforce block. Sharper outside corners are also possible by positioning the blocks with the round face functioning as a soft corner. Inside 90° corners with the rock face block are created by positioning the block to alternately lock in zipper fashion. However, when the rock face version has been specified with precise 90° outside corners, it will be necessary to cut and trim the selected blocks with an angle cutter to achieve a neat finish. Generally those blocks will be filled with concrete or mortar for added strength.

Corners and sharp curves then need to be stabilised, especially when they extend to heights of over 1.5m. This can be achieved easily if geogrids are used in composite retaining structures, by overlapping such reinforcing grids within the backfill. Otherwise, 3-5 % cement stabilised sand may be specified for the backfill to strengthen an outside facing corner or a convex radius within a wall. Even filling corner blocks with vertically reinforced concrete is an option.

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