Getting the wind up about tall buildings

Poor old Walkie Talkie. If it were a person it would be the one who gets their dress stuck in the door, and then the next week falls down the stairs and breaks its ankle.

Poor old Walkie Talkie. If it were a person it would be the one who gets their dress stuck in the door, and then the next week falls down the stairs and breaks its ankle. In the case of the Walkie Talkie the problem is not inappropriate clothing but dealing badly with the weather. So perhpas the analogy should be with somebody whose umbrella blows inside out, and then they turn out to get terrible sunburn. Because after the kerfuffle from two years ago, the Walkie Talkie is having problems again, not with sun but with the wind.

BD reports that ‘Concerns about strong winds at the bottom of the Walkie Talkie which were not predicted at the planning stage have prompted the City of London to start demanding independent verification of developers’ reports.’ It seems that, despite years of realising the potential problems, either we still don’t understand properly the effects that buildings have, or that developers don’t bother to go into the problem thoroughly.

It is complex. Smooth buildings cause wind to funnel near their bases, whereas rougher buildings throw the problem away from themselves. And buildings will, of course, interact with each other. We have all seen the effects. At the most serious people can be knocked over or even blown in front of cars. In less serious circumstances we may feel cold and uncomfortable or get dust blown in our faces. I remember years ago seeing a perfect vortex in front of Euston station, with debris rotating about a foot off the ground.

With more tall buildings, the problems can only get worse. So good for the City of London for taking it seriously.

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