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Smarter High-Rise Planning

Construction workers building a high rise

A German engineering firm and spin-off of the University of Karlsruhe has teamed up with the Technical University of Dresden and a Greek software company to develop an innovative and commercially viable code that simulates the results of wind-induced loads on high-rises.

The SARA software, an add-on or extension to existing structural engineering desktop programs, can improve early planning by giving engineers a relatively accurate measure of the effects of wind-induced loads on high-rises, much like a virtual wind tunnel. By validating the output data of the software through comparison with data obtained in actual or physical wind tunnels, the project was able to optimise the code in order to improve the accuracy of the software.

Advancing civil engineering

Realising major structures like tall buildings usually involves testing at-scale models in physical wind tunnels, a potentially expensive and time-consuming undertaking. The use of predictive software can reduce cost, time and complexity, making the work of engineers easier and more efficient. Greater ease and efficiency at the level of engineers can of course also translate into better information for project developers and financiers, and can help reduce the time (and therefore cost) needed to construct tall buildings.

Through its software innovation, “the SARA project helps to bring civil engineering into the state of the art on efficiency”, Michael Buselmeier, of Wacker Bauwerksaerodynamik GmBH, explained during an interview to discuss the outcomes and experiences related to the project. “This [kind of software] is already more or less common in the aeronautics or automotive industry”, he added.

An exemplary project

The project, co-funded by Eurostars with additional support from the Greek and German governments, was a success in that the SARA software has recently been commercialized in the market. According to Theodora Pappou of Sofistik Hellas, “the most significant achievement of the project is the development of a commercial product that comprises coupled advanced analysis tools towards a multiphysics analysis of modern buildings. This renders aeroelastic analysis of buildings and other civil engineering structures feasible”, she said.

In addition, the project was a “great opportunity to work with international partners”, according to Buselmeier, who noted that this was the first project of its kind for Wacker Bauwerksaerodynamik GmBH, which is now involved in further research projects including a major collaboration that is developing similar software for bridges.

The success of the project has also been of high value for Sofistik, which is leading on commercialising SARA, and which has been invited to participate in a further European project as well as a research project that is part of a Greece-Israel bilateral programme.