Thought Leadership

Wind Tunnel Tested: World’s Tallest Statue Unveiled in Gujarat

sculpture of Indian independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

In 2018, the Statue of Unity - a 182-meter sculpture of Indian independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel - opened to visitors. RWDI’s wind engineering team in India supported the design of this record-setting structure, which presented design challenges in its slenderness, complex geometry, and location in windy, mountainous terrain. The statue underwent extensive testing both in our Canadian wind tunnel laboratory and in our state-of-the-science wind tunnel, located in Trivandrum – the first commercial facility of its kind in India.

Our team began by developing a detailed understanding of the wind climate at the building site by testing a scale model of the topography. Equipped with these baseline insights, we then tested models of the statue itself, assessing both structural wind loads and cladding wind loads, and evaluating potential issues related to pedestrian comfort around the structure – and in particular the visitors’ centre at its base. Congratulations to our team in India, led by Dr. K. Suresh Kumar, and to the state of Gujarat on this extraordinary new monument.

statue of unity wind tunnel model
The figure’s walking stance means the statue – nearly twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in New York City – rests on two slender supports (the legs) separated by a substantial gap. Detailed analysis of wind effects on this challenging structure helped the designers build confidence in its working stress safety and performance for gust wind speeds up to 180 kilometers per hour.