Prototyping of thin shell wind tunnel models to facilitate experimental wind load analysis on curved canopy structures

Jimmy Colliers, Marijke Mollaert, Joris Degroote, Lars De Laet

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11 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


The topologies of membrane and shell structures are not covered by existing wind load Standards and wind tunnel testing should be used to obtain representative wind loads for these structures. However, accurate scale-models of these organically shaped and often open thin structures are complex, time-consuming and expensive to build. To stimulate experimental research on wind load distributions over these structures, this paper illustrates a prototyping methodology for double curved thin shell wind tunnel models with integrated pressure sensors. The production process is illustrated for a hyperbolic paraboloid roof structure. The obtained wind load distributions are validated with literature for a flat roof and canopy that is made according to the same methodology and for two hyperbolic paraboloid roofs. Results indicate that, compared to conventional wind tunnel models, these thin shell wind tunnel models yield more realistic wind pressure distributions over very thin canopy structures. Finally, Cp-distributions are shown for the hyperbolic paraboloid canopy with the high corner under attack. The production of glass-fibre reinforced composites in a CNC-milled mould is convenient and accurate and facilitates the production of wind tunnel models to be used for wind load measurements on organically shaped thin canopy structures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number188
Pages (from-to)308-322
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Wind Engineering & Industrial Aerodynamics
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • Double curved models
  • Pressure measurements
  • Prototyping
  • Tensile surface structures
  • Thin shell models
  • Wind tunnel models


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