Concrete Structures

Concrete is the most used construction material worldwide. An estimated amount of 7.5 billion cubic meters of concrete is produced each year, which is more than one cubic meter for every person on earth1. The amount of concrete used worldwide, ton for ton, is twice that of steel, wood, plastics, and aluminium combined. This can be explained by the advantages of the material, such as worldwide availability, easy execution on site, freedom of shape, durability, long service life and good fire resistance. Concrete can therefore be found in a large variety of structures such as architectural structures, housing, foundations, brick/block walls, pavements, highway bridges/overpasses, tunnels, parking structures, dams, pools/reservoirs, pipes and even boats. However, concrete is not just ‘one material’. Several types of mixtures exist, each with their own special material properties, such as (ultra) high strength concrete, lightweight concrete, strain hardening cementitious composites (‘flexible concrete), self-compacting concrete, etc. And all structures made with these types of concrete need to comply to the demands with regard to strength, stability, durability and serviceability, while they are subjected to various loads and environmental conditions during their lifespan.

The field of concrete structures covers the construction - including structural design, calculations and execution - and maintenance of reinforced and prestressed concrete structures. There are many new challenges that on the one hand deal with questions like how to apply new types of concrete in a safe and sustainable way in new structures. On the other hand, how to deal with the large amount of existing structures and their maintenance, needs to get a lot of attention nowadays. The chair of Concrete Structures at Delft University of Technology contributes to these challenges by the research projects that are performed by the group and by using these latest investigations and developments when educating young engineers. 


The group of Concrete Structures is part of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences of Delft University of Technology. The group was already part of Delft University of Technology even before it became a university. The chair was first appointed at the ‘Technische Hogeschool van Delft’ to prof. ir. J.A. Bakker in 1918. In that time reinforced concrete was still a relatively new building material. By the time the Technische Hogeschool became a University in 1986, the group had become a national and international renowned group due to its contributions to guidelines for reinforced concrete as well as prestressed concrete. Yearly, many activities were organized like symposia and excursions and, together with the ‘Betondispuut1’, the concrete canoe race. In the past decades the focus of the group was not only on structural behaviour of concrete structures, but also on the development of new types of concrete, like high strength concrete and self-compacting concrete. Furthermore, the group still stimulated the development of codes and with J.C. Walraven, it contributed strongly to the development of international codes, like Eurocode 2 and the fib Model Code. Since many decades the group is famous for the research on failure mechanisms and especially shear.

Today the group is chaired by D.A. Hordijk. He chairs a group of 10 staff members and 6 PhD students. Changes in the society and the field of concrete design have their consequences for the focus in research and education. Buildings and bridges build in the sixties and seventies are now more than 50 years old and several of them require reassessment to ensure their safety. Additionally, new types of concrete like cementitious composites are developed rapidly, however, guidelines on safe structural application of these new ‘materials’ lack. The group of Concrete Structures contributes to these questions from society by initiating research projects, like proof loading of existing viaducts, development of bridges for the future “Smart bridge”, etc. Furthermore, it is our goal to educate students following the latest standards and developments. A specialisation in Concrete Structures provides a broad knowledge in the field of concrete engineering, including concrete technology, execution of structures, design, prestressing, etc. In our master courses we do not just focus on applying codes to standard situations and structures, but on teaching students to find solutions for each situation or special structures. Furthermore, students can learn from mistakes in the course ‘Forensic Structural Engineering’ where prof. D.A. Hordijk shares his great experience as researcher on building faults. Concrete engineers that graduate in our group can really contribute to society by innovative designs and safe structures. 

Name author: Henk Spiewakowski
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