Effect of building overtopping on induced loads during extreme hydrodynamic events

Davide Wüthrich*, Michael Pfister, Ioan Nistor, Anton J. Schleiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Tsunamis, impulse-waves and dam-break waves have affected humanity in recent decades and the construction of vertical shelters can provide safety to people. However, for non-critical infrastructures, typically residential houses of lower height, overtopping is accepted during such events. This study experimentally quantifies the effect of building overtopping, i.e. water flowing over the roof, on the resulting loading process. Both surges and bores were investigated and the impact against buildings with two different heights was assessed. Detailed measurements of forces and moments allowed key differences to be captured between the scenarios with and without overtopping. Results showed that overtopping induced higher downstream water depths, leading to lower horizontal forces and a reduced resistance coefficient. Furthermore, cantilever arm, moment and impulse values were constantly lower in case of overtopping. Finally, this study presents an innovative methodology to assess the main loading features of buildings subject to overtopping, supporting engineers to design safer resilient structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-304
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Hydraulic Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Hydrodynamic loading
  • overtopping
  • tsunami
  • unsteady flows
  • wave impact


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of building overtopping on induced loads during extreme hydrodynamic events'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this