Northumberland Case Study

With Women in Engineering Day just behind us we’re taking a look back at Northumberlandia a project which Geosynthetics supplied and support with alongside our Principal Engineer, Patricia Guerra-Escobar! 

Northumberlandia is the world’s largest human form sculpted into the landscape, designed by the renowned landscape architect and artist Charles Jencks. The woman earth sculpture is lying at the entrance of a coal surface mine in Northumberland, north of England. 

Northumberlandia is 400m long and 34m high at her highest point. It takes about 20 minutes to walk the 1,162 metre-long path around the landform. In total 1.5 million tonnes of soil and clay from the surface mine were used in the creation of this sculpture. 

To construct the most challenging parts of the sculpture a solution was required to achieve the steep slope angles and complex shapes needed for the chin, nose, nostrils and eye brows. The design was based on a section with a maximum reinforced slope height of 7.0m, slope angle of 60 degrees and a top gabion wall height of 3.5m. The reinforced soil slopes were designed according to BS8006:2010 for the internal stability and Eurocode 7 BS EN1997 for the global stability. For the reinforcement of the slope Tenax RW TT060 and TT045 Geogrids were used with a regular spacing of 600mm, wrapped around at the face. The finished slopes were protected with Landlok TRM450 to ensure a vegetated face.  Compacted weathered mudstone with no cohesive material was used as the reinforced fill with the following parameters: Friction angle Φ = 27º C = 0, Ύ = 19kN/m3. Compacted mudstone was used as the foundation material with: Friction angle Φ = 35º, C = 0, Ύ = 20kN/m3. 

The main challenge during construction was control of the water content and settlement due to the large amount of rainfall. So, halfway through the project it was necessary to install a new internal drainage system within the structure, tied into the lagoons on the project. The lagoons, initially ornamental, were increased in size to take away the water and to become drainage lagoons. 

Geosynthetics Ltd worked in partnership with Cetco Europe to provide a “design, supply and construction” package for the project. Northumberlandia is another example of the technical and economic advantages of solutions as Reinforced Soil Walls and Slopes using geosynthetics. 


“Working with Geosynthetics provided innovative stabilisation solutions to maintain the integrity of this award-winning earth sculpture.” – Andrew Roe – Associate Director & Principal Landscape Architect, Wardell Armstrong LLP 


Products used: 

  • Tenax Geogrids 
  • Landlok Erosion Control 

For further information on the outstanding engineering capabilities that Geosynthetics Ltd can offer follow this link