A.F.R.S Relief Shelf Retaining Wall System - BC-382

Preferred Disciplines: PhD or Post-doc
Project length:  2 years
Desired start date: Summer 2018
Location: BC
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences:  PHD Student with an interest in retaining wall systems
Language : English
Company: Rocky Mountain Stoneworks Ltd

About Company:

Robert McIntosh founded Rocky Mountain Stoneworks in 1999. With over 35 years of experience in the concrete industry Mr. McIntosh recognized a need to provide high quality manufactured stone products for the Western Canadian Market. From its small start, Rocky Mountain Stoneworks has steadily grown into one of Canada’s finest cultured stone manufacturers. Bob and his innovative team expanded their product lines into concrete fencing products and developed cutting edge products like Cloud Stone, a lightweight veneer for the do it yourself market and patented the original Rocky Wall. Bob has a history of innovation and the AFRS Relief Shelf Retaining wall system is their next great project. Like all products developed by the Rocky Mountain Stoneworks team, the focus is on long lasting quality, innovation and the desire to change the construction industry for the better.  

Project Description:

To combine three existing, known and tested retaining wall techniques into a single new hybrid system. The new AFRS system will only utilize the existing three systems’ strength’s and none of the individual disadvantages associated with c/forts, cantilevered walls or, walls utilizing relief shelves. All traditional systems are fixed to a rigid stem and or base plate. These traditional systems are incredibly expensive to build and install and awkward to transport.

Traditional wall systems- cantilevered, counterfort and others incorporating pressure relief shelves offer great stability and can be built very tall, without having to rely on MSE (mechanically stabilized earth). This is the industry “go to system” and is wasteful, time consuming and unnecessarily expensive due to all the extra earth work associated with the MSE (Geogrid System).

However, once the above retaining techniques are married to a modular block wall with built in setback, this new hybrid wall reduces costs and gains ease of manufacture. Greater efficiencies are realized at the point of installation resulting in a 40% increase in wall stability.

The AFRS system is now able to quickly “go tall” without increasing its price per sf unit cost. 

Research Objectives/Sub-Objectives:

Wall Strength, prove and exceed current retaining wall systems-This will be the first time that a relief shelf will be used on a modular block retaining wall system with set back. From existing walls and scholarly papers (utilizing the relatively unknown pressure relief shelves), it has been proven that the pressure relief shelf is extremely effective in reducing both overturning and lateral displacement issues (up to 40% reduction). The traditional pressure relief shelves have been monolithically attached to a rigid vertical stem and base rendering these systems much too expensive to compete against the industry standard MSE wall system. However, by making all the hybrid precast components into a non-rigid, light weight, quick fit, modular system, we are able to maintain all the stability inherent in the traditional systems.

Sub Objective- Economic impact on site development, speed and ease of construction and the cost savings for block manufacturer. We would also like to study the environmental impact of the AFRS System (a greener system for manufacturing and installing retaining walls).


Full structural and geo-engineered calibrated test of the AFRS Relief Shelf Retaining Wall System. The test will be monitored by a registered engineer here in British Columbia.

Expertise and Skills Needed:

We are looking for someone who is comfortable with retaining walls and geo-tech formulas. We are looking to take a professors existing knowledge and apply it to our new AFRS system. Our goal is to prove that we meet and exceed current retaining wall systems.


For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.
  2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform or by contacting Yaser Roshan directly at yroshan(at)mitacs.ca