Riga Central Station

Riga, Latvia

Critical European infrastructure project connecting Baltic states to European rail network requires complex wind study.

Redeveloping Riga’s central railway station was key to linking the Baltic nation of Latvia to the European Union. The facility underwent a significant rebuild, including full redevelopment of the station building, track re-gauging, a new bridge, and embankment removal. This initiative is part of the larger Rail Baltica project that will connect the Baltic states to the European rail network. It is the largest infrastructure project in the Baltic area in over 100 years.


  • The Challenge

    The main feature of the new station is a long span roof supported by a series of tall arches forming an atrium above the rail platforms. The proximity of the central station to the Daugava River, the unique roof shape, and the size of the spans raised questions as to how wind would interact with the station and affect occupants. Designers needed unique and expert insight on how the wind and microclimate would impact their two main objectives:

    • To ensure wind-related safety and comfort for travelers on station platforms and in the surrounding areas.
    • To predict the wind-induced loads on the station’s exterior to inform the structural design.
  • Our Approach

    RWDI’s multidisciplinary team—including wind experts and microclimate specialists—acquired and analyzed local climate and weather data to develop a statistical wind climate model. The model identified the magnitude and direction of the wind expected in the area and was used alongside wind tunnel test data to predict local wind speeds within the station as well as wind loading.

    Our microclimate specialists identified crucial mitigation solutions to ensure user safety and comfort using a pedestrian-level scale-model wind tunnel study to measure the local wind speed at over 70 locations in and around the station. Smoke flow visualizations were necessary to consider the impact of various configurations on platform wind conditions.

    Our wind loading specialists measured time-varying wind-induced pressure loads at more than 650 locations on the station’s envelope simultaneously through a second wind tunnel scale-model study. A series of static equivalent wind loads for relevant wind loading patterns produced for design verification purposes helped ensure the structural integrity of the station both during construction and upon completion.

  • The Outcome

    Our wind tunnel microclimate study ensured that the wind’s impact on the safety and comfort of people around the platforms would be minimal. The results of the wind tunnel pressure loading study enabled optimization of the station’s exterior envelope and structural system design. As such, our work contributed to the development of a robust and reliable design within the required timeframe and resulted in cost savings on cladding materials and structural systems.

    The new Riga Central Station provides more green space and public areas with a new promenade street and improved landscaping. We’re proud to have contributed to such a significant infrastructure project.