Weatherwatch: Sleek building design where the wind slips past

Leeds city council plans to spend £245,000 trying to dampen down violent winds that race through the streets surrounding Bridgewater Place, the city's tallest building standing 367ft (112m) high. People have been blown over on the nearby roads, and in the most serious incident a lorry was toppled over as winds whipped around the building. The problem is that Bridgewater Place soars high above the city like a large slab and as winds slam into it they plunge straight down to the ground in fierce gusts.

Another notorious building for wind is Centre Point in London, the concrete and glass tower that has come to represent 1960s brutalist architecture. This faces straight into the prevailing westerly gales, sending the winds crashing to the ground and creating havoc for anyone trying to get around the busy road junction below. But not all tall buildings are wind hazards and the sleek curves of the "Gherkin" and the pyramid shape of the "Shard" in central London let the wind slip around them without much harm down on the ground.

Another danger is when tall buildings stand so close together they create canyons that funnel winds at great speed. This phenomenon led to a spectacular disaster at Ferrybridge power station in Yorkshire during a gale in 1965. Eight massive cooling towers were arranged in two rows too close to each other, and as the wind squeezed between them it accelerated and brought three of the towers crashing down. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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