Inside VieW

Face to face with a hurricane

Yiu Xiong Ng about a special test at the water laboratory in Singapore.

Photos Zakaria Zainal

Many people know the feeling—when there’s a violent storm going on outside, with the wind howling and rain pelting the windows, even if you’re safe indoors, you just doesn’t feel at ease. You’re afraid something could break. In our test laboratory in Singapore, we ensure that this fear remains unfounded—even when going face to face with a hurricane.

Before a building is even built, its outer façade, mostly windows, is tested for indestructibility during extreme weather events. This is done with performance structure tests, during which great pressure is applied without the windows shattering. Water tests under extreme conditions are also conducted to ensure impermeability during torrential rains.

 

For this purpose we simulate wind speeds of more than 30 meters per second, hurricane speed, in our laboratory. Water is sprayed onto the surface at the same time, which has the effect of torrential rain. The test is passed if not a single drop of water penetrates the system. The process is monitored by three people. One controls the equipment while the others hunt for even micro-cracks in the glass.

We’re used to extreme weather in Southeast Asia. But extreme weather events with torrential rains and gale-force winds are increasing even in more temperate regions. That’s why I find my work to be very important. Every day I have a good feeling that I’m making the surroundings a little bit safer for my fellow human beings.