Mystery of why buildings hum in high winds explained by experts
Torbay Hospital, where a new metal facade is proving a bit noisy (Picture: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

As storm Doris battered Britain with 90mph winds last week social media was filled with complaints about whistling buildings.

Torbay Hospital in Devon was proving a particular headache for some, with footage uploaded online showing the humming noise that is created by gusts blowing through its new metal facade.

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Of course, if you are just passing a noisy building you might think nothing of it, but for those living nearby it can be particularly tiresome.

The Beetham Tower in Manchester is another example of a building that has a reputation for howling or humming every time the wind picks up.

Noise reduction work has taken place in 2007, 2008 and 2010 but the skyscraper is still giving off its infamous hum.

The problem has grown to such an extent that a team of experts is researching the cause of whistling in a bid to provide solutions on how to avoid it.

Such problems have been solved in the past – take Cityspire in New York which was driving people mad with high-pitched whining until developers removed every other slat.

Researchers at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton say each ‘whistling’ building must be taken on its own merits but that noises are typically attributed to angled slates – called louvres – placed on the roof or over windows.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Campbell/REX/Shutterstock (614067b) Hilton Hotel, which occupies the first 23 floors of the Beetham Tower, the tallest residential building in the UK, Manchester, England, Britain Opening of Hilton Hotel Manchester, based on 23 floors of the Beetham Tower, Manchester, Britain - 09 Oct 2006
The Beetham Tower is the tallest residential building in the UK (Picture: Mark Campbell/REX/Shutterstock)
Mystery of the humming buildings solved exterior-city-spire-midtown-west-apartment-for-sale-new-york-condo Credit: City-spire.com
The whistling sound of City Spire was solved by removing slats (Picture: City-spire.com)

The institute told the Mail Online: ‘Wind-induced noise in buildings can cause significant noise disturbance for both the occupants inside and the community outside.

‘Tonal wind noise is normally associated with… cavities or structural resonances of flexible components.

‘These resonances create the architectural equivalent of a musical instrument, such as a flute or an Aeolian harp, which generate a tone at particular wind speeds and directions.’

The institute uses a number of methods to calculate how best to solve whistling buildings, including putting scale models, or louvres, in wind tunnels.