Front view of CCTV. Credit: Arup.; Front view of CCTV. Credit: Arup.;


Performance based design

Sophisticated digital simulations that help manage risk

Sophisticated digital simulations that help manage risk

Collisions. Earthquakes. Soil movement. Blasts. Structures need to withstand the sudden deformations challenging environments and events can cause. We model the deep physics of these non-linear events, helping design risk out and performance in.

Torre Reforma: modelling for a 2,500 year seismic event

At 246m Mexico City’s Torre Reforma is the tallest building in a country prone to earthquakes. The tower is triangular shaped to maximise the views of nearby Chapultepec Park. Due to the irregular layout and the client’s desire to achieve enhanced seismic performance, we used LS-DYNA to analyse and predict the building’s behaviour under a variety of seismic forces. Our structural modelling and geotechnical work informed a design capable of withstanding a 2,500-year seismic event.

Find out more our work on Torre Reforma

Digital detail

We work with finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics and blast analysis tools. Accelerating computer power has transformed the abilities and value of these tools.

In modelling, detail translates into confidence. A structure modelled with a few hundred elements 30 years ago might have 20 million elements today. The more closely we can model the granular reality of the world, the more confident we can be that our simulations capture every critical risk.

Modelling, like gaming, has always operated at the limits of what graphics cards can deliver. We are using advances in graphics to create compelling, animated visualisations. They provide an accessible medium to engage investors and owners in the physics of the assets we model.

Modelling helps us re-consider our approach to design

Faster trains give rise to a re-evalution of network infrastructure. Our modelling considers passenger comfort, dynamic forces on track structures, vibration and noise transmitted to nearby buildings.

Co-creating smarter tools

We have been working with finite element analysis tool LS-DYNA for over 35 years. It is a highly capable solver for the complex, real world problems we model. We partner with its developer to create powerful new applications and tools, modelling materials in ever greater detail: from modern high strength composites to centuries old masonry and ground with millions of years of history.

Building accurate models is time consuming. We have written our own code to automate many of the steps involved, speeding up the scale and precision of the virtual assets we test. For a project in the Netherlands, for example, automation has enabled us to model multiple individual buildings that could be subject to risk of earth tremors due to nearby gas extraction. Without automation, this level of detail – and the level of confidence in our analysis – would never be possible.

As we increase the capabilities of our modelling tools, we partner with universities that are running new, advanced tests. We sense-check the analysis of our tools against these tests results to keep the vital link between modelling sophistication and the real world forces they simulate.

Modelling to withstand extreme forces

Our modelling is informing the design of offshore structures such as gas platforms and wind turbines. Offshore structures are exposed to a range of sudden, potentially catastrophic forces, from wave slam to ship collision and, in colder climates, iceberg impact. For the foundations of offshore wind turbines, for example, we model the complex environment of the seabed itself, where earthquake motions can cause the liquefaction of sandy soils. As turbine designs become ever larger, advanced analysis methods will have an ever greater role to play in evaluating and mitigating the risks posed by extreme environmental conditions.

Modelling imagination

Challenging projects need unusual approaches and solutions. Modelling can not only validate ambitious designs. It creates a dialogue between simulation and design. It can suggest forms that push the edges of design, delivering high-performing structures in imaginative new ways. Furthermore, the designs that are informed and validated by detailed modelling can often be more economical than purely code-based designs.

The powerful modelling tools we work with are allowing human intelligence to do more, but they remain just that: tools. We use our deep domain knowledge in structures, materials and soils to validate the narratives told by simulation results.

We use that same experience to frame the requirements for a project from the outset. Our insights become a central part of the design brief, helping clients get more right first time and reducing the iterations of design.

Helping create safer, cleaner city transport

Our ability to model the physical phenomena of an event like a vehicle collision meant Arup was chosen to provide all structural and safety related analysis of the TX5, London EV Company’s newest – and safest - iteration of the famous black cab.

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