Buildings, Infrastructure and Rail: Wind Effects from Tall Buildings

Volker Buttgereit, Managing Director, BMT Fluid Mechanics

Volker Buttgereit, Managing Director of BMT Fluid Mechanics Ltd, believes that the increasing trend in tall buildings will reinforce the importance of quantifying the dynamic wind effects that arise from such complex structures.

The sheer magnitude of these buildings and the increasingly adventurous and innovative structural designs has forced the industry to take a much closer look at the ability to withstand wind induced dynamic vibrations not only from a structural integrity point of view, but also with regards to building sway. It is true to say that the taller the building is, the more lightweight it becomes. Naturally, the safety aspect of ensuring the building doesn't fall over is at the forefront of the designer's thinking, but what is now equally as important is stopping the building from swaying to an extent whereby people inside can really feel it.

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Furthermore, the locations of some of these buildings means that much harsher weather conditions, such as typhoons and tropical cyclones, can exacerbate the challenges associated with the wind and its effects, therefore careful consideration is needed at the very start of the design process. It is for this reason that designers across the world are working even more closely with wind engineering specialists such as BMT to ensure that the shaping of the structure complements the wind effects - this has, in the past, resulted in a complete re-design from what was originally planned.

Tallbuild2Sustainable design approaches are also dictating design solutions for tall buildings that are energy efficient and minimise their consumption of building material. For sustainable, cost effective and safe design, these structures now commonly require specialist wind studies to not only provide design guidance from concept to final design stages and beyond, but to also provide on-site performance validation of key building parameters.

Wind tunnel testing has continued to play an integral role in the design of tall buildings. Whilst such techniques will still apply, a more interactive and flexible methodology is needed to ensure that the technical risks are minimised before significant design costs are incurred.

BMT has risen to this challenge by developing a unique approach which enables designers to interactively employ force balance testing technology with sophisticated online data analysis software. This means that wind tunnel testing can be carried out at a much earlier stage in the design process and the analysis can be judged in minutes rather than days, helping to minimise the technical risk and subsequent commercial risks associated with these tall buildings. Furthermore, investment in web-based, high resolution video monitoring and data presentation systems now allows the wind engineering specialists to remotely interact with the design team, which is a particular advantage for a team which is spread across different continents.

This article was first featured in BMT's company magazine, FOCUS.

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Contact Information

Volker Buttgereit

67 Stanton Avenue,
TW11 0JY 
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 8614 4402

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