Structural Aerodynamics (Available only in Focus on Structures Special Edition)

by Bob Lang, Ove Arup & Partners, 13 Fitzroy Street, London W1P 6BQ United Kingdom,
Hugh Muirhead, Ove Arup & Partners, 13 Fitzroy Street, London W1P 6BQ United Kingdom,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1996, Vol. 66, Issue 1, Pg. 3A-7A

Document Type: Feature article


One of the most strikingly ambitious public buildings in France, county governmental headquarters in Marseille, achieves the status of world-class architecture largely through its structural systems. Its design was largely directed against the area's unpleasant winds and weather while providing natural light and ventilation through extensive glazing and natural venting. Defensive design efforts included airfoil structural forms, wind deflectors, fabric sunshades and computer-controlled HVAC. A metro station was retained on the site of the complex, which includes 75,000 m� of office and conference space and below-ground parking for 1,000 cars. An atrium separates two 150m long concrete blocks, the executive suite is perched above one office block in a steel airfoil shaped structure, and the legislative spaces are in a second, larger steel airfoil structure that is raised above the level of the surrounding highways. A white fabric sunshade is wrapped around this structure, while climate in the atrium is moderated by computer-controlled shades and vents. A British team won an international design competition for the project: William Alsop Architects, Ove Arup & Partners, engineers, and Hanscomb Ltd., quantity surveyors.

Subject Headings: Steel structures | Aircraft wings | Wind engineering | Ventilation | Structural systems | Structural members | Public buildings

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