OCT 2019, Sebastian Desand

“Good wind microclimate conditions are necessary for creating outstanding public spaces in the City for all”

Ensuring good wind conditions in an urban development project is considered a risk mitigation measure. Which risks can be avoided by performing a wind study?

- Not getting the building permit from the municipality.
- Developing an area with so bad wind conditions that this will affect the property value.
- Or creating an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous environment for pedestrians.

These aspects are very important when designing and planning a new building (and here, at Ingrid Cloud, we are always talking about them). But there’s something else as well, something that can easily pass by unnoticed… Check the headline again. The quote is the first sentence in the latest guidelines for wind microclimate published in August by the City of London:

Good wind microclimate conditions are necessary for creating outstanding public spaces in the City for all.

“A city for all”. The city is NOT only for the healthy, young and strong people. A modern city must also embrace people with illnesses, elderly folks, and people with some physical challenge or disability. So, how can wind microclimate enhance the concept of inclusive cities (a city for all)? By considering the impacts of urban development on wind microclimate, we can make sure to build safe, comfortable and sustainable spaces for EVERY citizen.

Think about it: an area which is considered ‘ok’ for strolling for a healthy and strong individual, might pose quite a challenge for an old person with a walker. This aspect is still sadly disregarded when considering wind microclimate.

This subject is also part of the UN Global Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities. And more specifically, target 11.3 – Inclusive and sustainable urbanization. An inclusive city for all MUST ensure a good wind microclimate.

Apart from being an inclusive city for all. Modern cities strive for creating a pleasant environment for pedestrians. In all aspects – climate, accessibility, mobility, etc. This is crucial to ensure a positive development of the city and to maintain a good level of visitors and tourism.

So, how can urban planners and architects ensure a good wind microclimate? This can be done by conducting wind studies. Either by using CFD-software (Computational Fluid Dynamics) or by using wind tunnels. Or both. In fact, using both methods is becoming the industry standard. And the guidelines published by the city of London gives you direction on when to do what.

For example, the guidelines state that CFD simulation or wind tunnel testing should be used when building heights are above 25 meters. For buildings lower than 25 meters, wind studies are also required if a sensitive pedestrian activity is intended (e.g. around hospitals, schools, transport hubs), or if it’s located in an area exposed to wind. And when designing taller buildings, CFD-simulations should be used early in the design process and validated in the end by using wind tunnel experiments.

If you are an urban planner or an architect, you can use Ingrid Cloud easy and automated wind simulation tool to easily conduct highly accurate simulations. By using Ingrid Cloud yourself in early stage and then hiring a wind expert in later stage for validation (who also can use Ingrid Cloud software), you will be able to create a better end results faster and reduce the risk of unpleasant surprises having to re-design a building or an urban area.

Don’t forget the wind when designing a city of the future. A city for all!