Early conversations with MEL Consultants at the conceptual stage of the design process can help to avoid wind-related problems for the completed project. Past experience with hundreds of wind-tunnel studies can flag considerations regarding building shape, orientation, entry location, balcony/terrace siting, likely dynamic response, and general massing; without recourse to the wind tunnel in the initial phases of the design. As the design evolves, and its various features become firmer, the MEL team can advise on what wind-tunnel investigations (if any) might benefit the end product. If the code approach to the structural and cladding design is a reasonable methodology (say, a rectilinear building with a standard structural system in well defined surroundings) we will advise how to most efficiently use the relevant wind load standard.
The most common way that the designer establishes the expected pressures on the external envelope of your new building is to use the latest Australian Standard (AS/NZS1170.2). This document was generated by a knowledgeable committee using hundreds of wind-tunnel studies and, since it has to apply to many geometries and locales, it is a somewhat conservative document. By performing a site-specific, building-specific wind-tunnel study the design team obtains the actual wind pressure distribution over their new building; effectively placing the "money" where it is needed. The wind-tunnel model will include the nearby buildings and any terrain of consequence; neither of which are adequately addressed in the AS/NZS1170 analysis.
Additionally as architects design more interesting building shapes the Australian Standard becomes more difficult to apply, since the pressure guidance in that document targets more conventional geometries such as rectilinear buildings. A wind-tunnel study of your project will generate a better understanding of the design wind pressures on the walls, roof and major appurtenances yielding more confidence in the integrity of the design and, frequently, generating savings at the same time.
The most common way that the designer of a new building establishes the expected wind pressures and structural wind loads is to use the latest Australian Standard (AS/NZS1170.2), or similar document pertinent to the geographic region of the site. These documents are generated by knowledgeable committees using hundreds of wind-tunnel studies and, since these methodologies have to apply to many geometries and locales, they are somewhat conservative documents. By performing a site-specific, building-specific, wind-tunnel study the design team obtains the actual peak structural wind loads or the true wind pressure distribution over their new building; effectively placing the "money" where it is needed. Additionally, on the rare occasions that the shape of the subject building, or the influence of nearby buildings, generates wind pressures and/or wind loads larger than the code calculations the design team needs to know that is the case, so that the design is adequate. A pure code approach would miss these rare eventualities. The wind-tunnel model will include the impact of nearby buildings and any terrain of consequence; neither of which are adequately addressed in the AS/NZS1170 analysis or other code/standard.
Thus, a wind-tunnel study yields a truer understanding of the design wind loads, often resulting in reduced cladding and structural expenses. On the rare occasions that the discovery of larger than expected loads and pressures occurs the design team needs to know these data to ensure a responsible design. In the case of tall slender building designs the wind tunnel will yield information about the motion to be expected on the upper floors that may actually control the design.