Covid-19: an airflow simulator for performance halls

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The Covid-19 epidemic has brought all our cultural activities to a sudden halt. Like many other places, the Paris Philharmonican establishment devoted to symphonic music, chamber music, jazz or even world music, will remain closed, at best, during January 2021. But in the event of a resumption of shows, it has called on Dassault Systèmes to create a 3D model of its prestigious Grande Salle Pierre Boulez.

The French company specializing in digital simulation programs has virtually studied the air circulation and the spread of virus particles in this concert hall to determine how the Philharmonie de Paris could optimize the safety of spectators and artists on stage. ” An experiment rich in lessons which made it possible to make visible the mechanisms of the airborne spread of the virus “, specifies Jacques Beltran, vice-president in charge of the public sector of Dassault Systèmes.

He details: “ We made a digital twin of the Grande salle Pierre Boulez, we modeled its ventilation system which is integrated under each seat, allowing air to circulate behind the backs of spectators and musicians. Our experts from the health sector have modeled the air flow possibly loaded with viral particles by using virtual spectators who cough to measure the spread of the virus between spectators, but also the musicians. For example, we modeled the breath of a trumpeter. This simulation allowed us to see that by reducing ventilation by 50%, we greatly reduced the risk of contamination from one spectator to another. We could carry out this type of study in all places that welcome the public and of which we do not know what the impact of ventilation is on the risk of propagation. These simulations make it possible, in a way, to highlight totally invisible phenomena. »


Study of airflows in the Great Pierre Boulez concert hall of the Philharmonie de Paris by Dassault Systèmes.
Study of airflows in the Great Pierre Boulez concert hall of the Philharmonie de Paris by Dassault Systèmes. © Dassault Systems

These virtual air circulation maps in cultural venues encourage health authorities to reopen large performance halls more quickly? Nothing is less sure. The safety of the public, artists and personnel in the sector is not negotiable, believes the government. Music lovers will still have to wait and make do with streaming their favorite masterpieces online, like this christmas concert bringing together a selection of the most beautiful sacred pieces by Vivaldi and Corelli presented on the stage of the Philharmonie de Paris – without any audience to acclaim them – the musical ensemble Les Arts florissants.

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