Home Articles New 50 Years of Terre Armée (Reinforced Earth) Technology- An Experience

50 Years of Terre Armée (Reinforced Earth) Technology- An Experience


It has been a proven fact observed that civil engineering does not provide enough opportunities in terms at technical innovation. In this historical back drop the innovation of Terre Armee (Reinforced Earth) has revolutionized the civil engineering after the introduction of Reinforced Cement Concrete and Prestressed Concrete.

The concept of Terre Armee struck late Henri Vidal in the year of 1957 on beach of Ibiza, France. It took good six years for Vidal to complete his thesis “La Terre Armee” on soil reinforcement principle. He finally filed the patent on Terre Armme in 1963 and the patent was approved in 1964.  It is, however, a lengthy experience when one considers the road it travelled till date. The first structure made of Reinforced Earth is now 49 years old.

The first structure constructed as early as 1964 in Pragnere in South of France made of metallic soil reinforcement. In the year at 1968 Henri Vidal formed La Terre Armee with Mr. Mauarire Darbon, one secretary and a draftsman. Since then, there was no looking back not only for Terre Armee as a company but also the acceptance of the new technology, globally. The road which has been travelled is first of all, the construction of more than thousands of structures since 1964 with million square meter of facing. Today, structures made of Terre Armee are completed and placed in service everyday somewhere in the world.  The success of Terre Armee is indeed its worldwide acceptance and significant strength lying in the dynamism of its team, in its high technical level of engineering and construction services.

Considering the growing global acceptance of the technology and reaching out to larger market segment, Terre Armee, France, decided to go international and formed Terre Armee International with the beginning of the operation in Canada, USA, Spain, Japan, in the 70’s and subsequently to other Asian markets. This needed a high-level team, indispensable in assuring users of complete services for the engineering and design elaboration of projects, for production and delivery of reinforcements and facing, analysis of foundation soils, and also for technical assistance in the course of construction.  Terre Armee International started growing in leaps and bound.

Terre Armee International was formed to direct all of the research activities of the group, organize co-operation among different companies, distribute tasks according to need, means, and proficiencies and redistribute to all the countries of the world the totality of information and results.

During these years, 8 billion dollars have been invested in the research works for the development of Terre Armee Technology throughout the world.

1969 experienced the first Pure Bridge Abutment by Terre Armee mass in France, designed for heavy trucks. This application revolutionized the technology and construction became much easier and cost effective.

The patent for the ‘Cruciform’ Concrete Panels (Terra Class) was obtained in 1970. In the same year, the first subsidiary was formed in Canada and the creation of The Reinforced Earth Company in USA took place in 1971 followed by Tierra Armada in Spain in 1972.  After North America and Europe, Asia was not far behind. In 1974, license for Terre Armee technology was given to a Japanese company to carry out the operation under the technical guidance of Terre Armee, France.

In 1974 it carried out a comparative behavior test between galvanized steel and stainless steel. The result showed excellent behavior by the stainless steel in comparison with galvanized steel.

In 1976 Terre Armee’s Madrid test station, adapted soil reinforcement with cross ridges/ ribs. This particular strip was named as High Adherence strips which roughly doubled the coefficient of friction between soil and soil reinforcement.

In 1979, French government officially approved the Terre Armee concept standardizing the following norms:
–    Notion of minimum service life.
–    The principal of service probabilistic calculation.
–    Recommendation for the following up of structures.

Then Terre Armee International decided to diversify their activity through the use of precast arch system. And this was the beginning of a new chapter in the annals of Pre cast Arch solution. The Techspan pre-cast arch solution was a boon for construction Railway Over Bridge (ROB) Vehicular Under Passes (VUP), Hydraulic Bridges and others.

In a short span of time i.e. between 1976 to 1986 the Terre Armee International increased the surface of Terre Armee structure built every year from 1,00,000 m2 to 7,00,000 m2.

Mr. Henry Vidal reiterated “We should also mention as an example of a study distributed among several countries the research concerning the effect of earthquakes on Reinforced Earth, carried out first by French and American companies (with walls subjected to vibrations and explosion) and finally confirmed the excellent behaviour of all those structures which have actually been subjected to earth tremors (Japan and Northern Italy). This research has just been described in detail in a study about completed element in dynamic phase, thanks to the American programme.”

The time is past when a soil mechanics expert can claim that Terre Armee will not work. In reality the theory developed 50 years ago has been completely confirmed and it is worthy to note that with thousands of completed structures, there has not been a single mishap or accident resulting from the theoretical error concerning the design of Terre Armee.

Applications of Terre Armee at construction project
1.    Retaining wall to support motor roads
2.    Retaining wall to support railroads or subways
3.    Bridge Abutments
4.    Industrial structures
5.    Storage silos for heavy material
6.    Dams
7.    Marine structures
8.    Structures associated with Architecture

Since 1980s, Terre Armee became a global phenomenon in Civil Engineering Industry and the technology was not only acclaimed but proven, accepted and tested all over the world. It was the undisputed first choice for Mechanical Soil Stabilization activities.

Terre Armee in India

Terre Armee activities were launched in India during 1995, initially through a license agreement between Terre Armee International and an Indian company. This project initiative was launched through an industry-academic platform with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), New Delhi. In the year of 1996, the first Terre Armee project was executed for Arterial Expressway Corridor project in Jammu & Kashmir state of India.

In 2006, the license agreement was discontinued, and the business activities along with assets and human resources were transferred and Reinforced Earth India Private Limited became fully operational under the aegis of Terre Armee International, as a fully owned subsidiary of the parent group. Mr. Somnath Biswas who was already the General Manager in the licensee company, took over as the Managing Director of Reinforced Earth India, with a new challenge to drive a relatively young team of people to the next level of performance. Within short time span, Reinforced Earth has become a niche brand, providing specialized expertise and value engineering services to a dynamic and evolving, but competitive product driven market.

Over this period of organizational development, the main activities of the company have been Terre Armee walls and slopes, in-situ soil reinforcement techniques (TerraNail, TerraLink, Earth and Rock Anchors) and precast, pre-engineered concrete structures like TechSpan, TechCulvert, TechBox, TechAbutment (pure abutment and post tensioned slab) and TechWall.

Reinforced Earth India is committed to improve the environment protection of construction sites. It has a strong safety, health and risk prevention policy and dedicated towards a strong

Corporate Social Responsibility.

The commercial approach of the company has been to work upstream in projects, providing value engineering services and positioning solutions before products. The portfolio is well diversified with different market segments, products and techniques/activity and territories (geography).


The worldwide acceptance and utilization of Terre Armee Technology make it one of the most significant civil engineering developments of the last five decades. Its fundamental concepts have been well documented based on continuous commitment to research and development, together with the experience gained in thousands of Terre Armee structures in service throughout the world.

Yet Terre Armee technology continues to evolve, and its applications to expand. And as we obtain new data from ongoing research studies, we can anticipate further innovations in design and materials. But only those changes which can be demonstrated through extensive testing and evaluation to be technically and economically justifiable will become standard practice in design and construction of Terre Armee structures.



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