Dining outside in DUMBO; Dining outside in DUMBO;

Wind engineering

Designing comfort and safety into buildings, structures and microclimates

Designing comfort and safety into buildings, structures and microclimates

Ever-taller, ever-longer structures and the extreme weather events of our warming world are challenging the way we understand and design for comfort and resilience. We help developers, architects and asset owners anticipate and respond to these challenges. 

Beyond physics, wind engineering is a creative endeavour, bringing together an intimate understanding of the way form and structure respond to and generate forces. As wind engineering consultants, we are designers at heart. We translate test and simulation data on wind loads, building performance and microclimates into practical design advice. 

As part of a multidisciplinary firm, we understand the full lifecycle of a project. We use that understanding to de-risk design right from the concept stage. Long before any designs are tested, our strategic insights identify where any regulatory or performance issues might arise and how designs can evolve to anticipate and mitigate costly reworks. And long after structures are built, we continue post-construction monitoring to understand real life performance of designs, validating our tools and maintaining the value of assets.

Science, made intuitive

We work with a full range of tools - numerical, analytical and physical – to match the best tool to the issue and, in the case of wind tunnels, the best facility to the project. Central to our approach is our ability to visualise test, simulation and monitoring data in intuitive ways that are engaging and accessible to all stakeholders. 

Our 3D visualisation tool Arup Wind, for example, rapidly converts environmental wind tunnel studies data. Wind speeds are measured in the wind tunnel at discrete positions, Arup Wind then displays comfort and safety speeds at these discreet locations. Based on 3D gaming software, Arup Wind gives clients an immediate visual representation of the data, allowing them to rotate and interrogate a model of their structure. Our Wind Fragility Assessment provides equally intuitive reports, displaying a heatmap of structural risk to highlight where they are greatest and where investment in resilience will provide most value.

People centered design

People – the users of the urban structures and environments we simulate and test – guide our work. In designing for their comfort and safety, we look beyond wind comfort to their lived experience: their perception of wind, temperature, precipitation and air quality. Working with Arup’s pedestrian and crowd simulation software  MassMotion, we measure individuals’ comfort and safety in real time as they move in and around structures and environments. That information helps suggest ways to create and manage comfortable microclimates. It also gives planners better insights into the value of their public spaces, matching local conditions to particular uses and activities.

Informing sustainable design

That concern for people and their environments also informs our approach to sustainability. Traditionally, concern for a structure’s ability to withstand wind loads saw the increased use of carbon-intensive materials such as steel or concrete. We are using our understanding of wind engineering to isolate potential impacts and help architects and developers as they look to trim their use of materials. For example, we help designers reduce wind loading, and material requirements, without reducing structural safety by conducting site specific wind climate studies and wind tunnel testing.

Protecting structures, people and reputations

Wind damage can have far reaching consequences. Damaged roof membranes or MEP equipment can lead to water damage. Loss of roof pavers or even the smallest sculptural elements can cascade damage down a façade. Personal safety can be compromised, as can corporate reputations when buildings or environments become seen as unsafe.

Our forensic work not only interrogates the causes of wind-induced damage, it can anticipate issues and identify remedial actions to guard against them. This early, reliable identification protects not just structures and their occupants but all of those using the surrounding environment, and the reputation of the asset owners.

Hong Kong


Hong Kong

Mapping nature's strongest forces

By mapping the damage caused by typhoon Mangkhut to Hong Kong in 2018, we have defined new codes and standards that will help protect residents, windows and façades from future typhoon damage. The greatest wind loads were in coastal areas. Our Computation Fluid Dynamic analysis of some of these areas is suggesting new ways buildings can be clustered and oriented in relation to infrastructure and landscaping to withstand future typhoons and reduce windspeeds inland.





Outdoor comfort on the 26th floor

Including upper-level terraces on high rise buildings offers occupants and visitors great amenity but presents complex factors in managing wind loads on both the terraces and for pedestrians at ground level. For the 50-storey tower at 8 Bishopsgate, London, our tunnel studies helped the architects to optimise their massing and maintain comfortable microclimates for both visitors to the 26th floor communal terrace and at street level.


New York


New York City

The art of wind

Each year New York’s Museum of Modern Art and its MoMA PSI Young Architect Program give new talent the opportunity to design a temporary outdoor installation. Given the nature of the award, these artworks feature challenging forms, structures and use of materials. Each year we work with the winner to see their design made reality, advising on the impact of weather and climate on the performance of their structure. 





Keeping the crossing open

The poor wind performance of the old Queensferry bridge across Scotland’s Firth of Forth meant that the crossing had to be closed whenever windspeeds rose above 50mph. Working as an integral part of the design team for the new bridge, we combined a wind-optimised form of cross section, together with wind barriers to control loads on high-sided vehicles, ensuring the new crossing would be open to travellers between Edinburgh and Fife, even in challenging wind conditions.





The floating bridge

At 100m above ground, the sky bridge connecting the twin towers of DJI’s signature headquarters building needed to be light to fulfil the architect’s vision of a floating bridge. It also needed the strength that would maintain pedestrian comfort and safety, protecting them and the structure from Shenzhen’s strong winds. Our Computational Fluid Dynamics work informed wind tunnel testing and wind engineering design that delivered this elegant addition to the towers while supressing any wind-induced instability.


Worldwide resilience


Building resilience to extreme windstorms

Our wind engineering consultants contributed to the Resilience-Based Design Initiative (REDi) for Extreme Windstorms guide. Developed in collaboration with industry and academic leaders, the guide promotes resilient building design and operational preparedness to allow structures to better withstand extreme windstorms worsened by climate change.



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