Journal article

Modern structural design faces new challenges, such as addressing the needs of several stakeholders and satisfying the criteria for achieving sustainability. The traditional design process does not allow resolution of these challenges. The purpose of this project was to investigate the applicability of a Set-Based Parametric Design method to the structural design process of bridges. The focus was on the early design stage, in which the design team evaluates design alternatives against a chosen set of criteria. The main challenge in this stage of design is that the process should be cost- and time-effective while allowing comparison of the different alternatives and their evaluation in terms of the different design criteria. Certainly, structural design is often performed by a discussion between the different stakeholders involved in this process, i.e. the client, contractor, and engineering team. An evaluation of alternatives against criteria requires a more detailed design, which is contradictory to the early design stage when information is scarce. The selected approach was to develop a script that can generate information for decision-making, automate the structural design process, perform common routine design tasks, and control the numerical analysis. The method combined Set-Based Design, Parametric Design, Finite Element Analysis and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis. Three existing bridges were selected to demonstrate the applicability of the developed method. The method was successfully applied and it was observed that it resulted in bridges that were more efficient in terms of material costs and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions compared with existing bridges. By delaying the decisions and developing the sets of alternatives, various alternatives can be assessed and evaluated, in the design stage, against different sustainability criteria.

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