4. Section overview

Before we can design any structural element, we must first determine what loading should be applied. This design loading should reasonably represent the worst-case loading that the element is likely to experience in service.

In this section, we focus on the process of establishing this design loading in accordance with the Eurocodes. We’ll get into the detail of reinforced concrete design in the sections that follow, but what we cover in this section is key to designing code-compliant structures.

We’ll start by discussing the framework of codes and guidelines that apply to the design of reinforced concrete structures. We’ll discuss the suite of Eurocodes and introduce the ones most relevant to our study in this course. I’ll also highlight some additional publications you will find helpful as a reference as you design concrete structures beyond this course.

From here, we’ll discuss actions, loosely speaking, this is a Eurocode term for forces. We’ll also discuss the various factors that we must apply to turn characteristic actions (raw, unfactored forces) into design actions.

Then, we’ll introduce the concept of limit state design and identify the various ultimate and serviceability limit states set out in the Eurocodes. Finally, we’ll tie together all the concepts covered by working through some examples at the end of the section.

When you complete this section, you should clearly understand the terminology associated with the exercise of determining design loading. You should understand how to determine suitable characteristic actions and, by applying appropriate factors, turn these into design actions that can be used in subsequent calculations.

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