Wind tunnel tests avoid surprises and ensure the safety of large buildings even in the face of a cyclone

The natural phenomena that have recently passed through Santa Catarina have brought to light the importance of wind tunnel tests and gust analysis of large buildings that exist along the coast of Balneário Camboriú (SC) and are part of the list of largest buildings in the country. In addition to the structure, facade tests are also necessary and guarantee the effectiveness of sealing, resistance and safety of the glazed part that covers the skyscrapers.
Pasqualotto & GT engineer Davi Rotilli comments that, despite the fact that the largest buildings in Brazil are in the city, these were the ones that practically didn't even feel the impact of the gusts of wind. Swinging is the rule! “Regardless of their height, all buildings sway when hit by wind forces, although this movement is often not noticed. Perception is very relative. It depends on each person, on the position in which they are in relation to the building, if they are sitting, lying down, if they have labyrinthitis, among others ”, justifies the engineer.
Choosing to do tests in wind tunnels is an important measure and reinforces the grandeur of the developments, such as YACHTHOUSE by Pininfarina, the largest residential building in Latin America. With 81 floors and 281 meters high, the project had all laboratory tests of the wind tunnel carried out in England by B.R.E. and in Canada by RWDI. In addition, a gust analysis and design study was carried out in Panama, under the coordination of Oscar Ramires. In the country of Latin America, the dynamics of short and long duration bursts were analyzed, with efforts that vary with the intensity of the wind, with the height of the work, with the place where the building is located, with the shape of the project and with the shape and density of surrounding buildings, with topography, among others.
All this so that YACHTOUSE by Pininfarina does not become sensitive to occupants. Likewise, the accelerations that may occur at different points in the structure were analyzed. The rules establish limits for accelerations so as not to cause discomfort for the vast majority of users, during the life of the building.

“In the specific case of YACHTHOUSE by Pininfarina, all procedures were carried out in order to guarantee the safety and comfort of future residents. And the studies showed the need to strengthen the structure so that the displacements at the top of the building were within the limits established by national and international standards. Two levels of outriggers were then implemented on floors 30 and 53, which consist of large heavily reinforced beams that increase the rigidity of the structure and control displacements in the face of wind forces ”, explains the engineer. It is also worth mentioning the tests carried out with the facade, which resulted in an approval of the glass skin with scores above those required by the regulatory standards.

How a wind tunnel test works

• Initially, wind loads are estimated based on design wind speeds, explained in technical standards. These speeds are the result of the statistical analysis of the data collected over several decades at weather stations around the country.
• With the estimated wind forces, the structural system is established and the structural elements are preliminarily dimensioned in such a way as to limit displacements at the top of the building and there is no danger of tipping over.
• After defining the preliminary structural solution, we then proceed to tests in which scale models of the building under study and of the surrounding buildings are constructed.
• Then this model is subjected to a wind tunnel test where wind speeds compatible with the design wind speeds, defined in the statistical studies mentioned above, are applied.
• Data taken from tests in the wind tunnel provide a more accurate forecast of the stresses that the structure will be subjected to over time. With these efforts, the structural elements that had been pre-dimensioned in the first phase of the project are then checked and, if necessary, adjustments are made to obtain the second version of the structural model, which is now more accurate.


High resolution images fordownload:

Caption image 001: 3D project YACHTHOUSE by Pininfarina
Caption image 002: outriggers levels consist of large heavily reinforced beams that increase the rigidity of the structure and control displacements in the face of wind forces;

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