Mercury Towers by Zaha Hadid Architects

St. Julian’s, Malta

Wind tunnel testing to affirm the comfort and safety of pedestrians and occupants at Malta’s tallest residential tower.

At 33 floors tall, Mercury Towers by Zaha Hadid Architects is distinctive in that its ribbed profile twists about halfway up. The structure contains retail, residential, and hotel spaces. One of the last designs of the late Zaha Hadid, the project is hailed on its website as “an unforgettable farewell from one of the world’s most exceptional architects.” 


  • The Challenge

    Mercury Towers by Zaha Hadid Architects’ distinctive twisting form meant that the tower required wind tunnel testing to determine pedestrian comfort and safety, as well as cladding and structural wind loads. Its unique shape could not be addressed in this regard by code-based testing alone. Given the height of the tower relative to its surroundings, it was anticipated that the structure would have a significant impact on the wind environment at ground level.

  • Our Approach

    RWDI’s team of wind experts was engage as part of this project to meet the challenges presented by this distinctive tower. As part of this project, we:

    • Assessed the comfort level around the proposed development through a pedestrian wind study and provided recommendations for improvement
    • Conducted complex scale model tests of the tower and its surroundings to allow the influence of adjacent structures to be included in wind tunnel tests
    • Leveraged long-term meteorological data for Malta in wind tunnel testing in our state-of-the-art Milton Keynes boundary layer wind tunnel to accurately analyse the results
    • Simulated wind speeds and directions at street level, building entrances, podium terraces, and higher-level terraces to accurately assess the pedestrian comfort level of the wind environment
    • Delivered concepts for minimizing uncomfortable winds where they were identified
    • Conducted a structural wind load study to provide the overall wind-induced loads acting on each floor of the proposed tower and identified building motions at the top occupied floors for comparison with established criteria related to occupant comfort
    • Determined design wind loads for cladding or curtain wall design through a cladding wind load study
  • The Outcome

    Our wind load studies accurately measured the wind effects on and around Mercury Towers by Zaha Hadid Architects, including summarizing the expected peak wind pressures acting on the exterior envelope of the building, and provided options for minimizing winds where necessary. Overall, our services verified the tower provided a safe and comfortable experience for pedestrians and occupants alike.