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October 2018


Luma Bendini

Sustainable living places: the wind factor

'Architecture is an expression of values'

The quote is from architect Norman Foster. In times when humans are concerned about building a better world for current and future generations more than ever, sustainable construction and its impacts on people’s quality of life is a hot topic!

It’s well-known that there is a significant relation between quality of life, human comfort and the urban built environment. Creating comfort zones in outdoor open spaces are essential elements to this discussion. And there’s no talking about outside spaces without addressing wind as an important factor.

It’s possible to create favourable wind speed by appropriate designing and urban planning which, consequently, leads to desirable development. That’s why analysing the pedestrian wind environment in urban spaces is an urgent topic for those interested in building sustainable living places.

How wind affects outside urban spaces:

Big picture: Wind has effects on pedestrian comfort, distribution of heat, dispersion of excessive humidity, spreading of traffic and ventilation of buildings.

Natural ventilation: Keeping fresh air flowing.

Financial: Uncomfortable wind conditions have a drastic and negative effect on the success of new buildings and shops because it discourages the buyers from shopping when wind conditions become severe or uncomfortable to bear. 

Safety: High wind speeds at pedestrian level near high-rise buildings can create an uncomfortable or hazardous experience.

Microclimate consequences of urban forms

Understanding the urban microclimates allows the city planners, designers, architects and developers to make informed strategic design decisions.

Technological tools can predict environmental behaviour depending on the project’s concept, providing accurate data to guide design and planning processes. The industry has never before seen so many tools and technologies available for that!



"Computer information models allow professionals to shift the ultimate performance of a building away from the mechanical room and back into the permanent attributes of the design." 

- Giovagnorio and Chiri, 2016   

What’s involved in a wind microclimate assessment?

Bear in mind that not all turbulence modelling methods predict wind gusts with the complexity they have in real-life external areas. That’s why choosing the right tool is the first and most important step. Knowing how to analyse data is the second one.

Although there’s no industry standard for the specification of wind conditions for microclimate assessments, there are widely accepted documentation for validating pedestrian comfort at ground level such as Lawson Criteria, a guideline based on the likelihood of experiencing ideal or unfavourable wind speeds (based on criteria and thresholds) at a given location.

Combining accurate simulation with pedestrian wind comfort criteria is a powerful way to guide the design process towards the optimal solution for urban projects.

Conclusion: simulate wind at early design stages

Wind is a turbulent force and a complex factor to deal with. It’s implications for building (or destroying) comfort zones and general quality of life are huge!

Although the mindset for sustainable constructions has established many trendy practises among the engineering simulation industry (such as daylight and thermal analysis), wind studies are still not fully explored in this context.

Ingrid Cloud is an automated flow simulation platform. Upload the geometry directly from the browser and run accurate flow simulations.


The Environmental Dimension of Urban Design: A Point of View.

Promotion of Urban Environment by Consideration of Human Thermal & Wind Comfort: A literature review.

Urban Form, Wind, Comfort, and Sustainability: The San Francisco Experience.

A review on the CFD analysis of urban microclimate.