In this work a coupled thermo-chemo-mechanical model for the behavior of concrete at early ages is proposed. The model allows simulation of the observed phenomena of hydration, aging, damage, and creep. It is formulated within an appropriate thermodynamic framework, from which the state equations are derived. In this first part, the formulation and assessment of the thermochemical aspects of the model are presented. It is based on the reactive porous media theory, and it can accurately predict the evolution in time of the hydration degree and the hydration heat production. The evolution of the compressive and tensile strengths and elastic moduli is related to the aging degree, a concept introduced to account for the effect of the curing temperature in the evolution of the mechanical properties. The short- and long-term mechanical behavior is modeled by means of a viscoelastic damage model that accounts for the aging effects. The formulation and assessment of the mechanical part of the model are relegated to a companion paper.