Temporary and permanent retaining structures interact with soils that are usually in unsaturated conditions. In this work, a 1g-scale physical model is presented to investigate the interactions between retaining walls and unsaturated soils. The physical model is equipped with a water-filled hydraulic cylinder connected to a pressure-volume controller to measure the horizontal component of the later earth thrust and high capacity tensiometers to measure soil matric suction. A system of low-friction linear guideways has been installed at the base of the wall-model. The failure surface is observed through a 3 cm thick glass wall on one side of the container. A series of images are acquired during the tests, and Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) technique has been used to identify the displacement field. Selected test results on a fine sandy soil are presented, emphasizing the differences in the lateral thrust between dry and partially saturated conditions. The presented results show the impact of the partially saturated condition on both the magnitude of the horizontal component of the lateral earth thrust and the failure mechanism at active state.