Projects with Sheet Pile Walls (SPW)

Projects with Sheet Pile Walls (SPW)

Sheet Pile Walls – Overview

In order to have a more efficient usage of construction areas in congested urban areas a vertical development of buildings becomes necessary. Currently we more often face situations where urban buildings need as many parking spaces, so, due to lack of space, that requires the development of several underground floors.

The design and execution of deep excavations in congested urban areas is quite a challenge especially in terms of geotechnical engineering and it requires a good knowledge of the soil mechanics and soil interaction with the retaining walls of the excavation.

The analysis of excavation retaining walls can be performed using two calculation methods (sizing methods): Limit Equilibrium Method (LEM) and a numerical method – Stiffness Ratio Method (FEM/SRM).

Limit equilibrium method

Is based on the colaps asummed conditions, when the entire soil shear strenght is uniformly mobilized around the supporting wall. Steady state limit calculations are based on the consideration of linear, simple distributions of soil lateral efforts.


The method is widely used and provides acceptable results for specific structural forms (eg. console walls), but it is not indicated for walls supported on many layers (multilayer bracing systems). There can be pointed out certain situations where this method is applicable with certain specific features according to the particular situation. From this point of view, the following static schemes are possible:
a) Wall embedded in ground on the depth f and free (unrestrained) on the excavation depth (console wall)
b) Wall supported in ground on the depth f and anchored (braced) at the top
c) Wall embedded in ground on the depth f and anchored (braced) at the top

Stiffness Ratio Method (FEM/SRM)

Considers the soil on the wall’s depth f as an elastic medium (Winkler type) characterized by the modulus of subgrade reaction to horizontal displacement, kh, and modulus of subgrade reaction to vertical displacement, kv.


Physically, the Winkler medium is composed of elastic springs disposed between the element and a rigid base. The coefficient kh increases linearly with depth according to the relation kh=mz, where m is the coefficient of proportionality. If a beam is placed vertically in this medium and is loaded horizontally, at a certain depth z it will occur a horizontal displacement  y(z), and between soil and beam will be mobilized a horizontal pressure σh(z).
According to Winkler hypothesis, this pressure is proportional to the displacement with respect to relation: σh(z) = khy(z). On the depth f, the element is divided in segments of length a, and the continuous supporting between soil and retaining element is replaced with a punctual supporting realized in the centers of these segments. When the element deforms under the action of earth lateral pressure, in the springs occurs elastic reaction , where b is the width of the wall element.

Further is presented the calculation of secant piles retaining wall for an 14 m depth excavation using the software SPW (Sheet Pile Walls) by GeoStru.

The site is located in the center of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The project’s objective was the construction of a services and office building with height of 2B + G + 12.


The height of Basement 1 is 5.06 m, while the height for Basement 2 is 2.98 m, and the overall depth of the excavation goes to -10.50 m.

To support the soil during the excavation of the basement and to keep under control the groundwater level, there was a 4 sides tight enclosure of secant piles having a diameter of 60 cm, spacing distance of 45 cm and lengths between 17,15 m and 19,65 m with a double role – strength and sealing of the enclosure.


The soil stratigraphy and the parameters used in the calculation of the retaining wall can be observed in the window below.



Secant piling solution was chosen because groundwater was encountered at a depth of 3 m. As the excavation goes forward, the retaining walls are supported by three layers of horizontal metal struts having a diameter of 80 cm, located at the following depths: -0,50 m, -4,50 m and -9,0 m.

The image below shows the secant piling retaining wall definition formed by 60 cm diameter piles disposed at 90 cm spacing. Primary piles are made of C8/10 concrete containing added bentonite (waterproofing role) and the secondary (strength) piles are made of C25/30 concrete, reinforced vertically by 8 independent 25 mm diameter bars and a 10 mm diameter spiral reinforcement.


For a more precisely calculation regarding retaining wall strength and stability conditions there were analyzed seven different execution phases of the excavation according to first two computing combinations approaches provided by  Eurocode 7.


The calculation results using the FEM method for soil lateral loading, internal reaction forces and the horizontal displacement of the retaining wall can be seen in the table bellow, for all seven phases.


In the window below there can be observed the soil lateral loading diagrams, internal structural reaction and horizontal displacement of the retaining wall calculated for desing phase 5:


Other photos during execution

phase3 IMG_0002 IMG_0032