Blow the house down

UK-based Cambridge Consultants have developed a wind simulator that generates pressures equivalent to a category five hurricane. The wind generation technology will attempt to destroy a house at The Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes in Canada this summer. It is part the Three Little Pigs project, run by The University of Western Ontario, to improve safety standards for low-rise dwellings.

The wind simulator takes the form of 70 networked, modular pressure actuators, which are then mounted against the exterior surface of a full-scale two-storey pitched-roof house. Each actuator contains a fast-acting valve system that allows simulated wind pressure to reverse direction at up to seven times a second. A control and networking system coordinates the actuators to replicate wind effects over the entire surface of the house.

The pressure actuators are also being deployed in smaller arrays to test the integrity of the building components such as glass panels or plasterboard.

The university’s Dr Gregory Kopp said: ‘We are going to determine how the rapid changes in pressure and direction of wind cause houses and other light-frame buildings to respond. So far, no one has been able to either simulate this or measure it in an actual storm.’

He added: ‘By blowing the house down, like in the children’s story, we will be able to provide guidance not only with regard to making them safer, but how to do so economically.’