A scale model of a portion of the Abbaye de Saint Germain-des-Prés, conserved in the Musée des arts et metiers in Paris, exhibits a somewhat unique ceiling design, with exposed beams forming a type of spider web pattern. This design allows for a large flat span to be constructed using only small length beams. A historical and acoustical research effort was launched in parallel to investigate this interesting structure. Did it exist, or was the 1:25 model, constructed in 1884, an architectural and structural study exercise? The room has been reputed by some to be the location of the 1792 Revolutionary Tribunal in Paris. The form visually resembles a Fresnel lens. Could this design have an acoustic function? This study presents measurements performed in the historical scale model as well as numerical simulations based on the models geometry. Results show a consistent trend with the ceiling acting as a focusing element. Various historical elements are also presented, collected from various sources from more than a century ago. Parallels of the architectural concept are also made to other historical designs, as well as a modern architectural design study.
Brian F.G. Katz, Olivier Delarozière and Paul Luisard. “A Ceiling Case Study Inspired by An Historical Scale Model.” Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics – 8th International Conference on Auditoriums Acoustics, 20-22 May 2011 33.2 (May, 2011): 314-321.