Concrete is a heterogeneous material exhibiting quasi-brittle behaviour. While homogenization of concrete is commonly accepted in general engineering applications, a detailed description of the material heterogeneity using a mesoscale model becomes desirable and even necessary for problems where drastic spatial and time variation of the stress and strain is involved, for example in the analysis of local damages under impact, shock or blast load. A mesoscale model can also assist in an investigation into the underlying mechanisms affecting the bulk material behaviour under various stress conditions. Extending from existing mesoscale model studies, where use is often made of specialized codes with limited capability in the material description and numerical solutions, this paper presents a mesoscale computational model developed under a general-purpose finite element environment. The aim is to facilitate the utilization of sophisticated material descriptions (e.g., pressure and rate dependency) and advanced numerical solvers to suit a broad range of applications, including high impulsive dynamic analysis. The whole procedure encompasses a module for the generation of concrete mesoscale structure; a process for the generation of the FE mesh, considering two alternative schemes for the interface transition zone (ITZ); and the nonlinear analysis of the mesoscale FE model with an explicit time integration approach. The development of the model and various associated computational considerations are discussed in this paper (Part I). Further numerical studies using the mesoscale model for both quasistatic and dynamic loadings will be presented in the companion paper (Part 2).