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Student Village, Queens University, Belfast

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Student Village, Queens University, Belfast

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Vertica retaining wall solution supplied for quick and easy project.
1 of 1 | Vertica retaining wall solution supplied for quick and easy project.

We supplied a cost effective product that could allow for quick and easy application that met the technical needs of the customer.

Key facts

Architect: Robinson & Patterson Ltd
Sector: Education
Client: Queens University, Belfast
Contractor: O'Hare & McGovern Ltd
  • Flexible system
  • Solution provider
  • Fast installation


Founded in 1845, Queens University now has 24,000 students. The University wished to replace a collection of 1960’s style tower blocks with an attractive village type environment to house over 1,500 students.

Poor ground conditions and challenging site topography meant that new building-levels for many of the 47 accommodation blocks had to be created by introducing bold terracing, enclosed within a series of engineered retaining walls.

Conventional in-situ retaining walls would have needed temporary sheet piling to protect the working area during construction together with substantial concrete foundations, both of which would add to costs and slow down the building schedule.


As the retaining walls had to be designed and installed as the site progressed and the old accommodation blocks were being demolished, the need for a flexible system that would cope with curves and slopes was paramount. The Vertica system solved these problems because of its speed of installation, flexibility and ease of construction without the need for complex formwork and shuttering.

Vertica is a dry built, segmental retaining wall system comprising concrete facing blocks in conjunction  with soil reinforcing geogrids and compacted back-fill to form a highly efficient, engineered retaining wall.

The speed of installation meant that the underlying “Malone” sands, a feature of the Queen Elms site, could be excavated and the wall installed before the ground weakened and collapsed. Vertica walls of 10m in length and 2m high were built in a little as two hours and at significantly reduced cost. The Vertica system also showed its positive environmental credentials in the scheme. Much of the excavated sands could be reused as structural back-fill to the retaining walls so spoil removal and the vehicle journeys that go with it were reduced and imported stone was kept to a minimum.

Stephen Burke of main contractor, O’Hare McGovern said, “It’s a fantastic system. You can install an anchor wall 3m high and 30m long in three to four days when a reinforced concrete wall would take three to four weeks.”

The use of Vertica segmental retaining walls has allowed additional accommodation blocks to be included on the site so making maximum use of available building space yet still retaining the open, village type environment required by the client.

Business supplying

Student Village, Queens University, Belfast

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