Sorbonne Université

Location: Paris France


Reconstruction of the acoustic heritage of Notre-Dame Cathedral through historically informed simulations : Experimental Virtual Archaeological-Acoustics

Thesis funding : Fall 2020 (2020-2023)

Funded through a grant from the “Chantier CNRS Notre-Dame”, this project will be carried out in partnership with the Past Has Ears ( project and its partners.


Reconstruction of the acoustic heritage of Notre-Dame Cathedral through historically informed simulations


When we think of the great architectural achievements of history, such as the Gothic cathedrals, their importance is strongly linked to their acoustic environment. The acoustics of a heritage site is an intangible result of its construction and its tangible layout. Ephemeral, but it is the concrete result of the physical nature of the environment. We will explore how, through measurements, research and virtual reconstructions, the acoustics of one of the most remarkable heritage spaces in France can be documented, reconstructed, and experienced by researchers and the general public alike. The focus is on the preservation and digital reconstruction of a heritage site, bringing it back from the ashes by examining its evolution and importance in history.

Thesis topic

The thesis project consists in helping to create virtual reconstructions of the acoustics of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, in its past and future states. The simulator will be used to study the impact of acoustics and the environment on different configurations of use in collaboration with historians, heritage architects, and musicologists. The thesis work will contribute to the research and documentation of the site, acoustic measurements, and the creation of ecologically valid geometric acoustic models. The thesis will include a series of perceptual studies on the impact of acoustic variations on play in the context of historically informed performance methods.


The candidate, with a master's degree in acoustics or a related field, will have the necessary skills to work at the crossroads of room acoustics modeling, psychoacoustics, and archaeological acoustics (archeoacoustics). An interest / passion for history would be an added asset. The ability to work independently and in groups is essential for the successful candidate. Motivation, self-discipline, and maturity are required for this highly interdisciplinary and collaborative project. The candidate should be comfortable with communicating in French or English (orally and in writing).

Computer skills are also necessary, for virtual reality prototype and integration of experimental tests. Knowledge of MatLab, MaxMSP, programming in C/C++ or python, and Unity would be beneficial.


The PhD will be supervised by Brian FG Katz, CNRS Research Director at the Institut d'Alembert (UMR 7190), Sorbonne University, and Mylène Pardoen, Soundscape Archaeologist CNRS Research Engineer at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme de Lyon-Saint-Étienne.


Applications will be accepted until 31-July-2020. The doctoral contract should start ideally on 1-Oct-2020.

Candidatures should be submitted via the CNRS recruitment portal : Offer UMR7190-BRIKAT-002 ( Please be sure to include a letter of motivation detailing your interest and capacity to contribute to the proposed subject.

Relevant articles

Postma & Katz, “Perceptive and objective evaluation of calibrated room acoustic simulation auralizations,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., vol. 140, pp. 4326–4337, 2016, doi:10.1121/1.4971422

Katz & Mervant-Roux, « Comment entendre le passé ? Quelques leçons d’une collaboration de recherche entre acousticiens et spécialistes d’études théâtrales, » Revue Sciences/Lettres, no. 6, pp. 1–14, 2019, doi:10.4000/rsl.1645. SI: L’Écho du théâtre 2

Postma, Dubouilh, & Katz, “An archeoacoustic study of the history of the Palais du Trocadero (1878-1937),” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., pp. 2810–2821, 2019, doi:10.1121/1.5095882

Postma & Katz, “Acoustics of Notre-Dame Cathedral de Paris,” in Intl Cong on Acoustics, Buenos Aires, pp. 0269:1–10, 2016

Pardoen, « Une machine à sons pour restituer l’histoire – Réflexion à partir du projet Bretez », dans La voix du public en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, Presses Univ. de Rennes, , pp. 257-269, 2019

Pardoen, « Bretez II : restitution d’un paysage sonore de Paris au XVIIIe siècle », dans Paysages sensoriels – Approches pluridisciplinaires, Ed. Mehl et Péaud, Presses Univ. de Rennes, pp. 111-119, 2019

Pardoen, « Projet Bretez: une pincée de son dans l’Histoire ». Digital Studies / Le champ numérique, 2019, doi:10.16995/dscn.350

Puget, Pardoen, et al. “Rapid Prototyping of Immersive Video for Popularization of Historical Knowledge”, in Intl Conf Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction, p. 197-203, Tempe, 2019, doi:10.1145/3294109.3300977

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