The Future of Tall Buildings in High Wind Regions

Nonda Katsalidis
Director and Partner
Fender Katsalidis Architects, Melbourne

William Baker / Bradley Young / Austin Devin

Mankind’s desire to reach new heights in its built environment is evident in the timeline of the world’s tallest buildings over the last century. It is clear that new technologies must continue to emerge and evolve to push this endeavor of height ever forward. As supertall towers trend towards not only increased heights but also unprecedented slenderness, the wind performance of these towers can determine their very viability. While today’s supertall buildings consider wind interaction as part of the design process, the wind performance of these towers does not often inform, influence or shape the architectural design at an early stage. To move forward, this must change.
To leap forward, one must consider emerging technologies and new ideas in wind engineering. Auxiliary damping systems continue to evolve. Distributed damping systems are under investigation, as are smart, adaptable damping systems using active control. The aerospace industry continues to explore the use of integrated, distributed pneumatic jets as a means of active flow field modification. Does this technology have a place in the architectural/engineering industry for tall buildings? Can architectural elements adapt to the wind in real time, to improve the overall wind performance? Are there smart ways to manipulate air distribution and ventilation systems to enhance the wind performance of the overall structure? What is the next, yet-to-be explored technology?
Structural Engineers must continue to explore the interrelation of architectural form and structural dynamics on the wind performance of tall buildings. They must also consider new technologies and potentially draw from other industries. Emerging and potential future trends in wind engineering will be explored and discussed.

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