The digital wind tunnel


Jens Chr. Bennetsen

Head of Center of Excellence for Advanced Simulations

T: +45 5161 6475

Marie Skytte Thordal

Industrial ph.d. fellow

T: +45 5161 7177

What you can study:

  • Wind loads and patterns
  • Outdoor thermal comfort 
  • Air quality & pollutant dispersion
  • Comfort and safety for pedestrians

Know which way the wind blows

Whether you are designing a single building or a full-fleshed masterplan, wind is a factor that cannot be ignored. 

Wind loads have a great impact on the viability of a structure, but through testing in wind tunnel studies, it is possible to optimise the design to ensure that structures can withstand the wind loads. 

The challenge is that traditional wind tunnel tests (using physical wind tunnels) are performed very late in the design process and that means that any design changes or savings found in the test requires a lot of re-work. This can be a time-consuming and expensive processes. And quite simply, there is only a limited number of wind tunnels available for testing, which hinders flexibility and induces slower responses. 

Every time you need to test a potential design change – lets say, for example, that you wish to test whether a building design works better with rounded corners than with sharp edges – it means having to build an all-new model, and that can be a cumbersome process. 

Moreover, testing scaling effect and smaller features of the design is challenging in a physical wind tunnel. 

At Ramboll, we have experienced these challenges first-hand, on complex building projects such as Bella Sky and Carlsberg City in Copenhagen. That is why we are developing a new digital alternative, using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). This virtual approach has less restrictions, provides superior visualisation features and creates key insights. 

The digital alternative: a multi-study approach 

We call it the digital wind tunnel. The approach can allow you to simulate, visualise and get accurate predictions of wind loading on the structure(s) in question – in a risk-free and flexible virtual environment. The digital wind tunnel model makes it is possible to easily test different design possibilities, so you end up with the optimal solution.

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It can also address a wide range of other design questions, in its function as a Digital Twin. With CFD simulation, it becomes possible to carry out multiple studies in one simulation and thereby, take several factors into consideration.

For example, a new structure can have derived consequences for its surroundings; a skyscraper, for example, can change the wind flow through an area and affect air quality, pollution levels, outdoor thermal and wind comfort, and safety for pedestrians and cyclist in the area.

The digital wind tunnel can address all these concerns in one efficient process. And it can be done before starting real-life commissioning, which means significant cost savings. Or as a post-study to identify problematic and malfunctioning design.

A sustainable footprint

Digital testing also makes it possible to make designs more sustainable, as you test different ways to reduce the embodied carbon footprint and Co2 emissions related to the structures, without compromising the structure’s ability to withstand wind loads.

Likewise, you can use the digital wind tunnel to optimise the design for energy efficiency, ventilation, safety and much more. 

Our development of the digital wind tunnel is based on thorough verification, by comparing the digital approach with real-world experiments and physical wind tunnel data to ensure the highest quality in our assessment. 

What you can get:

Accurate assessment of wind loads on built structures 

  • Precise peak wind loading predictions 
  • Structural optimisation 
  • High-quality visuals for enhanced understanding of flow patterns
  • Proven cost savings 

Sustainable impact

  • Reduced embodied carbon footprint 
  • Reduced Co2 emissions

Insight into local air quality, natural ventilation and stack effects 

  • Overview of both local and broader scale air quality 
  • Knowledge that enables decision-making 
  • Energy efficiency
  • Reduced operating and capital expenditure through efficient use of ventilation systems and impact from surrounding environment.

Microclimate assessment, including outdoor and pedestrian wind comfort 

  • Accurate prediction of a building’s local wind flow 
  • Wind and outdoor thermal effect on local environment 
  • Overview and mitigation of any safety concerns 


Sustainable City Climate Design

Read more in the presentation.

Download PDF (18.8 MB)

Digital Wind Tunnel

Read more in the presentation.

Download PDF (4 MB)