Reinforced concrete coupled walls are a common lateral load resisting system used in multi-storey buildings. The effect of the coupling beams can improve seismic performance, but at the same time adds complexity to the design procedure. A case study coupled wall building is designed using Force-Based Design (FBD) and Direct Displacement-Based Design (DDBD) and in the case of the latter a step by step design example is provided. Distributed plasticity fibre-section beam element numerical models of the coupled walls are developed in which coupling beams are represented by diagonal truss elements and experimental results are used to confirm that this approach can provide a good representation of hysteretic behaviour. The accuracy of the two different design methods is then assessed by comparing the design predictions to the results of non-linear time-history analyses. It is shown that the DDBD approach gives an accurate prediction of inter-storey drift response. The FBD approach, in accordance with NZS1170.5 and NZS3101, is shown to include an impractical procedure for the assignment of coupling beam strengths and code equations for the calculation of coupling beam characteristics appear to include errors. Finally, the work highlights differences between the P-delta considerations that are made in FBD and DDBD, and shows that the code results are very sensitive to the way in which P-delta effects are accounted for.
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