The Silk District

London, United Kingdom

A suite of wind studies — including helicopter downwash analysis — to ensure the comfort and performance of a mixed-use development in Central London

The Silk District will bring three new towers of residential and commercial units to its London neighborhood, as well as approximately an acre of new public spaces. In addition to the detailed design guidance required to confirm the buildings’ performance and ensure a safe, comfortable wind environment for pedestrians, RWDI delivered specialized analysis to confirm that the development would perform well during occasional helicopter traffic to an adjacent hospital.


  • The Challenge

    The project’s developers needed to study The Silk District from several perspectives, including the wind performance of the taller towers’ structural design, wind loading on the buildings’ cladding, and pedestrian comfort in nearby walkways and seating areas.

  • Our Approach

    To answer all these questions comprehensively, RWDI’s wind engineering team:

    • Created a detailed 3D-printed scale model of the entire development as well as models of local topography and structures to provide accuracy of results during wind tunnel testing
    • Performed wind tunnel testing with the main model fitted with hundreds of sensors to study the buildings’ behavior in winds of every speed and direction and identify if any conditions created issues that required more detailed study or possible design adaptations
    • Analyzed downwash from helicopter rotors of London’s Air Ambulance, based at the nearby Royal London Hospital — accounting for the helicopters’ makes and models, their weight with passengers and equipment, and all possible flight paths — to determine that effects on the buildings would be within acceptable parameters
    • Conducted a collaborative workshop on-site at our wind tunnel to brainstorm and test refinements to landscape elements and other features, all to enhance comfort on nearby walkways and patios
  • The Outcome

    The Silk District earned all necessary planning approvals from London authorities and is now under construction, with completion expected in 2023.