RWDI advises legendary football venue on how to increase seating and amenities without creating unwanted wind effects
When Fulham FC set out to add a new structure to their Craven Cottage Stadium located in London, they engaged RWDI to deliver a comprehensive suite of wind engineering services. Our analysis of wind loads on cladding and structural elements, as well as impacts on pedestrian comfort, helped refine and optimize the new stadium design. And, in a first for our team, we analysed the design to minimize disruption of sailing activity on the nearby River Thames.
In 2019, Fulham FC initiated construction of a new Riverside Stand: an enhanced and expanded structure for the side of the stadium that runs along the Thames. RWDI’s role was to support the design team with wind engineering analysis to ensure safe, comfortable conditions inside and outside the stadium—and earn planning approvals.
In addition to analyzing pedestrian level wind, we studied wind loads on the existing seating structures, and on the stadium’s cladding and roof. To promote comfort for Fulham FC spectators, we tested a range of design options for screening and protecting seated fans.
We also assessed the structure’s effects on sailing conditions on the river. To deliver detailed insight into how Riverside Stand would affect sailing conditions, we used proprietary tools called “Wu Tubes”; these innovative probes gather multiple distinct pressure measurements to capture the speed and direction of wind at a given location. In our state-of-the-art wind tunnel, we arranged 45 Wu Tubes in a grid pattern across an area representing the Thames, which provided a detailed picture of how the Riverside Stand would affect wind speeds, directions and gusts on the river. This work was carried out in partnership with the University of Southampton, who measured acceptable wind conditions for sailors. Combined, our tools and expertise delivered precise measurements and results that CFD modelling or other approaches could never permit.
Notably, the goal of confirming that the stadium did not adversely effect the current sailing conditions on the river was in tension with another key priority: ensuring pedestrian comfort, including on the riverside walk that extends along the length of the stadium. Pedestrians are typically more comfortable with lower wind speeds, while sailors want faster speeds to propel their boats. Our work helped the design team demonstrate that the new structure would not adversely affect either group.