A retaining wall is any structure that holds back an unbalanced load. Typically that load consists of soil and any structure that soil is supporting. Regaining walls typically fail in one of the following ways: overturning, sliding, crushing at the toe, or failure of materials. A gravity retaining wall is one that relies entirely on its weight to resist loads.
However a variety of new technologies have come into play that allow more efficient design of retaining walls often in much tighter spaces. These newer technologies can also be used to repair older gravity retaining walls. It is up to the design engineer to work creatively with the owner or architect to propose the best technology for design or repair of any given retaining wall.
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