Standardisation needs for the design of underground structures
Tunnel projects in Europe form a large portion of the infrastructure market, and there is continuous demand for the construction of new tunnels. Underground structures and particularly tunnels are unique structures. Their key design considerations and structural behaviour are different from other structures, such as buildings and bridges, as the main bearing element in tunnels is the surrounding soils and rocks. Despite the unique characteristics of tunnel design, there are no currently available European tunnel design standards or harmonised guidelines at European level. Thus tunnel design in... Europe is being carried out based on national knowledge and experience with the use of industrial/client standards and guidelines, as well as with parts of the Eurocodes (European Standards EN 1990 – EN 1999). The Eurocodes are a set of European Standards (Européenne Normes - EN) which provide common rules for the design of buildings and other construction works to check their strength, stability and fire resistance. However, the scope of the first generation of the Eurocodes covers buildings and some other civil engineering works, e.g. bridges, towers, masts, chimneys, silos, tanks, pipelines. There are no parts devoted to the design of tunnels, as the Eurocodes do not include explicitly all underground structures. In view of the above fact and the strategic importance of the construction industry in the European market, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission started in 2017 activities on the assessment of standardisation needs for the design of underground structures. The initiative was launched in the framework of the series of Administrative Arrangements between DG JRC and Directorate-General (DG) for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) of the European Commission on support to policies and standards for sustainable construction. The activities on standardisation needs for underground structures are supported by an Expert Group on the design of underground structures convened by the JRC. The JRC Expert Group on design of underground structures held its first meeting on 22˗23 May 2017 at the JRC site in Ispra (Italy). Subsequent to the first meeting of the Expert Group, the present document on the needs for new standard(s) regarding the design of underground structures was prepared by the JRC, based on the discussions during the meetings in May 2017 and May 2018, and the technical notes prepared by the experts. The document delineates that the development of design standards for tunnels and underground structures is certainly feasible (at least for typical configurations) and that it would be advantageous to foster harmonisation of design rules between countries. It appears suitable that the concept of new standards or guidelines for the design of tunnels shall be developed in line with the Eurocodes and delineate how to complete and/or restrict their use for tunnels without limiting the required flexibility, having in mind the specificity and diversity of tunnel design. In parallel, it would be beneficial that the concept will be consistent with the new developments in the second generation of the Eurocodes currently under development and expected to be published soon after 2020. Further, it is evident that there is need to (i) define what is specifically being used for tunnel design from the current Eurocodes, (ii) assess what is missing and (iii) identify what should not be used in tunnel design, keeping in mind that the Eurocodes were originally not meant for dealing with tunnels. Sufficient literature, case studies and experience is available to prepare the general framework of a standard or guiding document, as well as addressing most common types of underground structures. Currently existing standards, guidelines and recommendations for tunnels in some European countries, as well as the Eurocodes and international codes, can serve as the basis for the development of the new standards or guidelines. As next step, it is considered important for the Expert Group to brief CEN/Technical Committee 250 “Structural Eurocodes” (CEN/TC 250) on its views on the standardisation.
- Corporate author(s): Joint Research Centre (European Commission)
- Personal author(s): Stille, H; Lewandowska, A; Dimova, S; Pecker, A; Bezuijen, A; Grunicke, U; Bogusz, W; Breunese, A; Nuijten, G; Psomas, S; Athanasopoulou, A; Ganz, H; Jung, H; Subrin, D; Sousa, M.L; Bournas, B; Pinto, A; Sciotti, A; Burbaum, U; Frank, R; Roessler, K; Brandtner, M Themes: Industrial research and development, Transport infrastructure
- Subject: building industry, building safety, critical infrastructure security, designs and models, industrial infrastructure, research report, standardisation, tunnel