Numerical investigation of the wind environment around tall buildings in a central business district

  • Pingzhi FangEmail author
  • Deqian Zheng
  • Ming Gu
  • Haifeng Cheng
  • Bihong Zhu
Research Article


The wind environment around tall buildings in a central business district (CBD) was numerically investigated. The district covers an area of ~4.0 km2 and features a high density of tall buildings. In this study, only buildings taller than 20 m were considered, resulting in 173 tall buildings in the analysis. The numerical investigation was realized using the commercial computational fluid dynamics code FLUENT with the realizable k - ε turbulence model. Special efforts were made to maintain inflow boundary conditions throughout the computational domain. The reliability of the numerical method was validated using results from an experimental investigation conducted in the core area of the CBD (~1.5 km2). Experimental and numerical investigations of wind speed ratios at the center of the three tallest buildings in the CBD agree within an uncertainty factor of 2.0. Both the experimental and numerical results show that wind speed ratios in the wind field with exposure category D are higher than those from the wind field with exposure category B. Based on the above validation work, the wind environment around tall buildings in the whole CBD was then investigated by numerical simulation. Common flow phenomena and patterns, such as stagnation points, shielding effects, separation flow, and channeling flow, were identified around the tall buildings. The pedestrianlevel wind environment around tall buildings in the CBD was further evaluated using nearby meteorological wind data. The evaluation results show that some pedestrian activities, such as sitting at the center of the three tallest buildings, are unadvisable when the wind blows from the south-east.


wind environment pedestrian-level wind computational fluid dynamics wind speed ratio central business district 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



This research was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China (Grant Nos. 2015CB452806 and 2018YFB1501104), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51408196), and the Natural Science Foundation of Shanghai (Grant No. 19ZR1469200). Further support was provided by the State Key Laboratory for Disaster Reduction in Civil Engineering (No. SLDRCE15-A-04) and the Study on the Wind Characteristics Caused by Typhoons Considering Offshore Wind Farm Safety along Fujian Province (No. 2016FD(8)-008). The authors are indebted to the anonymous reviewers who provided valuable suggestions that improved the manuscript, particularly scientific aspects.


  1. Blocken B (2014). 50 years of computational wind engineering: past, present, and future. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn, 129: 69–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blocken B, Carmeliet J (2008). Pedes trian wind conditions at outdoor platforms in a high-rise apartment building: generic sub-configuration validation, wind comfort assessment, and uncertainty issues. Wind Struct, 11(1): 51–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blocken B, Carmeliet J, Stathopoulos T (2007a). CFD evaluation of wind speed conditions in passages between parallel buildings-effect of wall-function roughness modifications for the atmospheric boundary layer flow. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn, 95(9–11): 941–962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blocken B, Stathopoulos T (2013). CFD simulation of pedestrian-level wind conditions around buildings: past achievements and prospects. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn, 121: 138–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blocken B, Stathopoulos T, Carmeliet J (2007b). CFD simulation of the atmospheric boundary layer: wall function problems. Atmos Environ, 41(2): 238–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blocken B, Stathopoulos T, van Beeck J P A J (2016). Pedestrian-level wind conditions around buildings: review of wind-tunnel and CFD techniques and their accuracy for wind comfort assessment. Build Environ, 100: 50–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cindori M, Juretic F, Kozmar H, Dzijan I (2018). Steady RANS model of the homogeneous atmospheric boundary layer. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn, 173: 289–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fang P, Gu M, Tan J, Han Z (2015). A method to solve the wall function problem in simulating the atmospheric boundary layer. J Vibration Shock, 34(2): 85–90 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  9. Ferziger J H (1990). Approaches to turbulent flow computation: applications to flow over obstacles. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn, 35: 1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. GB50009-2012 (2012). National Standard of the People’s Republic of China: Load Code for the Design of Building Structures (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  11. Harper B A, Kepert J D, Ginger J D (2009). Guidelines for converting between various windaveraging periods in tropical cyclone conditions. In: Sixth Tropical Cyclone RSMCs/TCWCs Technical Coordination Meeting Technical Document. BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  12. He J, Song C C S (1999). Evaluation of pedestrian winds in urban area by numerical approach. J Wind Eng Ind Aerodyn, 81(1-3): 295–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jitendra T, Zhao M, Zhou T M, Cheng L (2014). Three-dimensional simulation of vortex shedding flow in the wake of a yawed circular cylinder near a plane boundary at a Reynolds number of 500. Ocean Eng, 87(1): 25–39Google Scholar
  14. Juretic F, Kozmar H (2014). Computational modeling of the atmospheric boundary layer using various two-equation turbulence models. Wind Struct, 19(6): 687–708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Launder B E, Spalding D B (1974). The numerical computation of turbulent flows. Comput Methods Appl Mech Eng, 3(2): 269–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Murakami S (1997). Current status and future trends in computational wind engineering. J Wind Eng Ind Aerod, 67: 3–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Razak A A, Hagishima A, Ikegaya N, Tanimoto J (2013). Analysis of airflow over building arrays for assessment of urban wind environment. Build Environ, 59: 56–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Shen L, Han Y, Cai C S, Dong G C, Zhang J R, Hu P (2017). LES of wind environments in urban residential areas based on an inflow turbulence generating approach. Wind Struct, 24(1): 1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Soligo M J, Irwin P A, Williams C J, Schuyler G D (1998). A comprehensive assessment of pedestrian comfortincluding thermal effects. J Wind Eng Ind Aerod, 77(1): 753–766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Stathopoulos T, Baskaran A (1996). Computer simulation of wind environmental conditions around buildings. Eng Struct, 18(11): 876–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Tolias I C, Koutsourakis N, Hertwig D, Efthimiou G C, Venetsanos A G, Bartzis J G (2018). Large Eddy Simulation study on the structure of turbulent flow in a complex city. JWind Eng Ind Aerodyn, 177: 101–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Tsang C W, Kwok K C S, Hitchcock P A (2012). Wind tunnel study of pedestrian level wind environment around tall buildings: effects of building dimensions, separation and podium. Build Environ, 49: 167–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Vernay D G, Raphael B, Smith I F C (2015). Improving simulation predictions of wind around buildings using measurements through system identification techniques. Build Environ, 94(2): 620–631CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Willemsen E, Wisse J A (2002). Accuracy of assessment of wind speed in the built environment. J Wind Eng Ind Aerod, 90(10): 1183–1190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Xu X D, Yang Q S, Yoshida A, Tamura Y (2017). Characteristics of pedestrian-level wind around super-tall buildings with various configurations. J Wind Eng Ind Aerod, 166: 61–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Yang Y, Gu M, Chen S Q, Jin X (2009). New inflow boundary conditions for modelling the neutral equilibrium atmospheric boundary layer in computational wind engineering. J Wind Eng Ind Aerod, 97(2): 88–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zhang A, Gao C, Zhang L (2005). Numerical simulation of the wind field around different building arrangements. J Wind Eng Ind Aerod, 93(12): 891–904CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zhang X, Tse K T, Weerasuriya A U, Kwok K C S, Niu J, Lin Z, Mak C M (2018). Pedestrian-level wind conditions in the space underneath lift-up buildings. J Wind Eng Ind Aerod, 179: 58–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zheng C R, Li Y S, Wu Y (2016). Pedestrian-level wind environment on outdoor platforms of a thousand-meter-scale megatall building: subconfiguration experiment and wind comfort assessment. Build Environ, 106(9): 313–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pingzhi Fang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Deqian Zheng
    • 2
  • Ming Gu
    • 3
  • Haifeng Cheng
    • 4
  • Bihong Zhu
    • 4
  1. 1.Shanghai Typhoon Institute of China Meteorological AdministrationShanghaiChina
  2. 2.School of Civil Engineering and ArchitectureHenan University of TechnologyZhengzhouChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory for Disaster Reduction in Civil EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiChina
  4. 4.Shanghai InvestigationDesign & Research Institute Co., Ltd.ShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations