x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

New code to ensure Dubai skyscrapers do not blow you away

Dubai's increasingly crowded skyline has prompted a revision of guidelines to control wind patterns around tall buildings.

Developers of Dubai skyscrapers will have to take into account how tall towers are changing wind patterns in the city. Jeff Topping / The National
Developers of Dubai skyscrapers will have to take into account how tall towers are changing wind patterns in the city. Jeff Topping / The National

Dubai is a city of skyscrapers. And that means it is also a city of impromptu wind tunnels - so much so that the Dubai Municipality has drawn up a new Wind Code requiring developers to take account of how tall towers are changing wind patterns in the city.

According to officials in the municipality's building department, the emirate will implement its revised Wind Code from next year.

It requires anyone looking to develop a new skyscraper to show that they have taken into consideration how it will affect and be affected by the flow of wind around surrounding buildings.

The new code is based on European guidelines and replaces a previous one based on British standards.

It adopts international guidelines requiring architects drawing up plans for the tallest buildings to test models of their schemes and the surrounding area in specially designed wind tunnels.

The code, which the municipality has been working on since 2009, is currently in the review stage.

Although the exact wording has not yet been published, it will include specific requirements for super-tall structures, irregularly shaped buildings or flexible structures.

Only buildings that adhere to the code will receive building permits.

"The new proposed code, if implemented, will unify and simplify the approaches used in design of buildings and industrial facilities for wind," said Moawya Safarini, the head of structural engineering at Dubai Municipality.

"In wind tunnel testing the structure and the geometry of the topography and the surrounding structures should be properly modelled and appropriate sensors should be used to measure the desired response parameters to wind before subjecting the model of the building to a current of wind through a tunnel with similar speed and characteristics to the wind in that area."

Mark Lavery, an associate director for tall buildings in the Dubai office of the engineering consultants Buro Happold, welcomed the Wind Code. "The news is a very positive development and puts Dubai in line with internationally accepted best practice," he said

"The recent hurricane that struck the east coast of North America should act as a stark reminder of the importance of evaluating risk properly but it should be ensured that any decisions are made on a basis of evidence rather than from a knee-jerk reaction.

"Over the last 10 years, wind tunnel testing has become increasingly accepted by clients as an integral part of the development of tall buildings, but the mandatory use of such testing is nevertheless welcomed, particularly considering that standard design codes of practice do not cover the effect of wind on buildings above certain heights."

lbarnard@thenational.ae