Wind-loading Design for Prince Sultan Cultural Centre

Millwood House Consultants are involved in the development of the iconic Prince Sultan Cultural Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. They were seeking to design against wind loading of this structure to the relevant British Standard and approached Wilde to assist them. ANSYS CFD software was used to predict the wind flow and resultant pressure loadings, providing valuable supporting information for the scheme.


Millwood House Consultants Ltd are a group of ‘solid, practical engineers’ with a focus on innovation and cost-effective design solutions. With offices in three South-East England locations, they have undertaken major multi-million pound projects, both within the UK and overseas.


Millwood House is involved in the development of the Prince Sultan Cultural Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This will be an iconic building. It will present as a large, upturned elliptical bowl containing an auditorium, nestling into a two-storey, 150m-diameter circular building. The circular building will contain an underground car park at its lower storey.

The entrance level, situated above the car park, will provide education spaces, exhibition spaces, hospitality areas, ‘The Jeddah Experience’, museum style visitor’s centre, retail and multi-use spaces, all with high quality finishes. The roof above the entrance level will be a podium deck with planting, pools, seating and circulation routes for walking and meeting.

Fig. 1: Original geometry (Courtesy: Millwood House Consultants)


In the middle of the Prince Sultan Cultural Centre’s structure is a bowl measuring approximately 90 m long x 60 m wide x 30 m high at its highest point. Millwood House were seeking to design against wind loading of this structure to the relevant British Standard.

The wind loading dictates the required strength of the cladding on the outside of the bowl. To this end, Millwood needed to calculate the forces on each element of the building based on the external pressures acting on those elements under a local “once in 50 years” maximum wind velocity.

The British standard provides formula that enables the user to estimate wind loading on normal building shapes based on building height, prevailing wind conditions and the local environment. However, the formula cannot reliably be used for non-standard building shapes. In this case, estimation of the possible external pressures requires the wind flow around the building to be resolved.

Fig. 2: Computational geometry (Courtesy: Millwood House Consultants)


Wilde Analysis used Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to model the wind flow and pressure field around the cultural centre and its local environment, exploiting the powerful capabilities within ANSYS CFX software.

The simulation process started with CAD geometry provided by Millwood House. This was efficiently defeatured by Wilde using ANSYS SpaceClaim DirectModeler to develop a suitable computational grid or mesh of the principal buildings of the Cultural Centre.

British Standard EN 1991-1-4 was applied to guide the development of local boundary conditions based on the far field topology and wind maps for Saudi Arabia. Boundary velocity profiles were easily set up using the CFX expression language. The wind flow and resultant pressure loadings around the bowl were calculated with the wind coming from 12 equally-spaced directions.

Fig. 3: Pressure contour map around sides of bowl, wind head on (Courtesy: Millwood House Consultants)
Fig. 3: Pressure contour map around sides of bowl, wind head on (Courtesy: Millwood House Consultants)

Business Benefits

The CFD simulation was able to predict where and under what conditions the highest loads would occur, and to show that these loads will not be in excess of what would be expected for a conventional building under the same circumstances. This provided additional confidence in the design to both Millwood House and their end client.

The work provided enabled us to present high-quality information to the client, which is excellent, given that the building is going to be an iconic one. 

Millwood House Consultants 


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