Académie des sciences

Charles-Augustin COULOMB : A geotechnical tribute

In 1773, Charles Augustin COULOMB submitted to the Academy of Sciences his memoir entitled "Essay on an application of the rules of maximis and minimis to some problems of Statics relating to Architecture".

This text is considered to be the foundation in geotechnics of subsequent work on the stability of slopes, pressures on retaining walls, bearing capacity of foundations, etc.

In order to pay tribute to the contributions of Coulomb in geotechnics and to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the publication of his memoir, the French Committee for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (CFMS) is organizing an international symposium intended to highlight the various contributions of Coulomb's theory to geotechnics. It will give the opportunity to French and European experts to testify to the importance of the legacy of Coulomb's work in today's geotechnics, including in its most recent developments.

During the symposium the annual honorary lecture "Coulomb Lecture" will be presented by Professor Robertson. This two-day symposium is placed under the patronage of the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Technologies, the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) and has received the support of the National Federation of Public Works (FNTP).

This event received sponsorship from :


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First Day : Monday September 25
Event Schedule Speaker Abstract Chairman
Opening and welcome 9h-9h45 Pr. A. Pecker   A. Pecker - Professor ENPC ; CFMS President Emeritus
Introduction ISSMGE 9h45-10h Dr. M. Ballouz, President of ISSMGE  
1st session 10h-10h45 Pr. J. Salençon Coulomb’s contribution to soil mechanics
Coffee break 10h45-11h      
Honorary Coulomb’s lecture 11h-12h30 Pr. P.K. Robertson Honorary Coulomb’s lecture N. Utter - Soletanche Bachy ; President of CFMS
Lunch 12h30-14h      
2nd session 14h-14h45 Pr. Callisto Retaining structures including seismic analysis E. Faccioli - Formerly Professor Politechnico de Milano
Chairman Studio Geotecnico Italiano
14h45-15h30 Pr. Krabbenhoft Computational limit analysis and extensions
Coffee break 15h30-16h      
Workshop on retaining structures calculation methods (bilingual session) 16h-17h30 J.-D. Vernhes, UniLaSalle Institut Polytechnique Earth pressure estimation – What existed before Coulomb? S. Burlon - Terrasol S. Borel - Soletanche Bachy ; President of EFFC
S.Burlon, Terrasol Estimation of the active and passive earth pressure – What do we owe to Boussinesq and Caquot?
C. Maurel & G. Haiun, Cerema Review of 50 years of wall construction in France
E. Bourgeois, Université Gustave Eiffel The finite element method and embedded walls
Gala dinner 19h30-22h30 Dinner cruise on La Seine river
Second Day : Tuesday September 26
Event Schedule Speaker   Chairman
3rd session 9h-9h45 P. Schmitt French practice for design of embedded walls: history and background, limitations of models S. Springman - Emeritus Professor ETH Zurich
9H45-10h30 Pr. P. de Buhan Application of the yield design theory to the stability analysis of reinforced soil structures
Coffee break 10h30-11h      
4th session 11h-11h45 Dr. J. de Sauvage An adaptation of Limit Equilibrium Methods for the design of soil-nailed walls facings V. Bernhardt - Terrasol ; CFMS President Emeritus
5th Session 11h45-12h30 Dr. S. Lacasse Coulomb, the artisan of modern geotechnical engineering R. Frank - Honorary Professor ENPC ; Former President of ISSMGE
Lunch 12h30-14h      
Workshop on retaining structures execution methods (bilingual session) 14h-16h N. Freitag, Terre Armée Reinforced Earth and its heritage – Reinforced soil walls S. Burlon S. Borel
F.Louvel, Spie Batignolles Fondations Execution of diaphragm walls and anchors – The latest innovations
C.Justino, Soletanche Bachy Concrete and geotechnics
T.Huyghues-Beaufond, Société du Grand Paris What to remember from 10 years of Grand Paris Express? A panorama of retaining structures at great depth
Closure of symposium 16h-16h15 N. Utter    

Symposium location: FNTP, 3 rue de Berri - 75008 PARIS

The main language of the symposium is English.

Registration fees:

  • Take advantage of the preferential rate extended until July 31:
    Complete registration : 350€ (VAT included) (*)
    One-day registration : 150€ (VAT included)  (**)
  • From 1st August 2023:
    Complete registration : 450€ (VAT included) (*)
    One-day registration : 200€ (VAT included)  (**)

(*) The registration fees include access to the symposium, coffee breaks, lunches, gala dinner and proceedings.
(**) The registration fees include access to the symposium for one day, coffee breaks, lunches and proceedings.


The proceedings will be published as a special issue of the Revue Française de Géotechnique that will provided at the symposium. The special issue will include all contributions to the symposium plus a copy of the original Coulomb’s memoir to the Academy of Sciences.

Register here:

Steering Committee

  • Laurent BRIANÇON, INSA de Lyon (former treasurer of  CFMS) ;
  • Fahd CUIRA, Terrasol (past President of the CFMS Scientific and technical Committee) ;
  • Fabrice EMERIAULT, laboratory 3SR Grenoble (Vice-President of CFMS) ;
  • Philippe GOTTELAND, National French Federation for Civil Works FNTP (Technics and research dir.) ;
  • Alexandre LOPES, Terrasol (President of  CFMS young members Committee) ;
  • Farimah MASROURI, Université de Lorraine, editor in chief of French Journal of Geotechnics (Revue Française de Géotechnique) ;
  • Alain PECKER, consultant (President emeritus of CFMS) ;
  • Nicolas UTTER, Soletanche Bachy (President of CFMS).