The Influence of Building Geometry on Pedestrian Wind Conditions

June 10, 2023Wind Engineering

As a specialized wind engineering firm, Gnobi Consulting Inc. recognizes the crucial role that wind plays in the design of buildings and structures. However, it is often overlooked that buildings themselves have a significant impact on wind conditions, especially concerning pedestrians. The geometry of buildings plays a vital role in shaping the wind environment experienced by people in pedestrian areas such as main entrances, sidewalks, drop-off zones, outdoor dining areas, and above-grade amenity spaces or terraces. Wind can create uncomfortable and even hazardous conditions for pedestrians, making it essential to understand how building geometry influences these wind conditions and design safe and comfortable urban spaces accordingly.

Building geometry affects pedestrian wind conditions in several ways. One way is the creation of wind tunnels, areas with high wind speeds caused by wind interacting with buildings. Wind tunnels can pose hazards to pedestrians, causing discomfort and even knocking them off balance. Building geometry can either exacerbate or mitigate the formation of wind tunnels, making it a critical consideration in the design process.

Another aspect influenced by building geometry is the occurrence of turbulence. Turbulence results in unpredictable gusts of wind that can be challenging to walk through. Building geometry can either encourage or reduce turbulence, thus impacting pedestrian comfort.

Tall buildings can channel wind down to street level, making it difficult for pedestrians to navigate. Conversely, well-designed buildings can help break up and redirect wind, creating a more comfortable environment for pedestrians.

To mitigate the impact of wind on pedestrians, specific design elements such as chamfered or rounded corners and creative articulated facades can be employed. These designs assist in reducing wind impact by making the building more streamlined and disrupting the flow of wind around it.

Chamfered or Rounded Corners

Chamfered or rounded corners are effective in reducing the impact of downwashing and corner accelerating winds. These winds occur due to the pressure difference between the windward and leeward sides of a building, which can generate strong winds that cause discomfort or even push pedestrians off their feet. Chamfered or rounded corners reduce the pressure difference, enhancing the building’s streamline and reducing the effect of downwashing and corner accelerating winds.

Creative Articulated Facades

Creative articulated facades, such as setbacks and protrusions, can help to disrupt the flow of wind around buildings. Setbacks are recessed areas in the building facade that reduce the surface area exposed to wind, thereby lowering wind pressure. Protrusions, on the other hand, create turbulence, which helps dissipate wind energy and reduce the overall impact of wind. These design features are particularly useful in areas with high wind speeds, creating a more comfortable and safer environment for pedestrians.

At Gnobi Consulting Inc., we utilize advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) wind modeling tools and wind tunnel testing to assist architects and developers in designing buildings that consider the impact of building geometry on pedestrian wind conditions. With our expertise, we can simulate wind conditions around a building and determine the optimal building geometry to minimize the impact of wind on pedestrians.

Our team of experts collaborates closely with architects and developers, providing customized solutions that consider the specific wind conditions of the area. Factors such as wind speed, wind direction, and building orientation are carefully analyzed to design buildings that prioritize pedestrian safety and comfort.


In conclusion, building geometry significantly influences pedestrian wind conditions. By incorporating specific design elements such as chamfered or rounded corners and creative articulated facades, the impact of wind on pedestrians can be reduced. At Gnobi Consulting Inc., we specialize in wind engineering and employ advanced wind modeling software to assist architects and developers in designing buildings that consider the impact of building geometry on pedestrian.

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