I am currently attending the 2-day TC250 Eurocodes meeting at JRC's headquarters in Ispra, Italy and will be posting my thoughts via this blog during proceedings.
[9.30 am CET] We have arrived at the (very modern) meeting room, having travelled from our hotel by coach. Despite taking 15 minutes to get through security at JRC's main gate, we are currently running half an hour ahead of schedule.
[10.00] The meeting is underway and the head of ELSA (the European Laboratory for Structural Assessment, which is located in Ispra), Artur Pinto, is giving an overview of the work of JRC, the Joint Research Centre. This work includes full-scale testing of buildings under load and a visit has been arranged for later today to see ELSA (see picture below).
[11.30] The Chairman is summarising various projects that have been designed and built to the Eurocodes (e.g. Roissy-Charles de Gaulles Airport usings ENs 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994, in France; Redhayes bridge in UK). He is demonstrating the fact that the Eurocodes are practical - this is in response to critics who are calling for 'simplification' of the Eurocodes.
[12.30] We are in the middle of a debate about the 'PraxisRegelnBau' initiative (i.e. Germany's desire to simplify the Eurocodes). Many speakers are basically for simplification, but just as many are suspicious of it. This issue will run for some time yet - Germany is clearly set along this path.
[13.00] We have just been given a very intersting tour of ELSA (see above), giving us the chance to view a three storey reinforced concrete framed structure which is being prepared for load testing.
[14.30] Immediately after lunch, we have had had a presentation on the work of WG2 for the 'Assessment and retrofitting of existing buildings'. Potential overlap and conflict with the committee working on CEN Workshop Agreement 63 has been resolved. Swiss Code SIA 269 for existing structures was published at the beginning of 2011.
[15.00] Discussion has now moved on to TC250's reply to the European Commission's Mandate M466 regarding 'Evolution of the Eurocodes'. The reply covers the development of new Eurocodes and the enhancement of the existing standards, ENs 1990 to 1999. As we delve into the fine detail of the reply, particularly the text relating to the issue of 'simplification', the debate is becoming rather heated. There is strong pressure for the reply to give a positive statement about simplifying the Eurocodes.
The picture above shows a building constructed according to the practices in use 20 years ago in southern Europe. The concrete is of lower quality than would be accepted today and contains limited shear reinforcement. The tests being conducted at ELSA are looking at how such buildings can be strengthened - such as by the introduction of the infill panels shown - so that they can withstand seismic actions.
[16.00] TC 250 already has a Resolution dealing with the issue of simplification. The meeting decided to include the text of that Resolution in the reply to the Mandate.
[16.30] Discussion of when the first 5 year review of the Eurocodes should start. The latest date is 31st March 2015 (5 years after the 'official' implementation of the Eurocodes on 31st March 2010). However, TC250 is discussing bringing the start of the review forward by two years so that any comments received can be incorporated into work on the evolution of the Eurocodes.