Forensic Architecture

Forensic Architecture is a multidisciplinary research group based at Goldsmiths, University of London, that uses architectural techniques and technologies to investigate cases of state violence and violations of human rights around the world. The group is led by architect Eyal Weizman. The agency develops new evidentiary techniques and undertakes advanced architectural and media research with and on behalf of communities affected by state violence, and routinely works in partnership with international prosecutors, human rights organisations and political and environmental justice groups. The agency is an interdisciplinary team of investigators including architects, scholars, artists, filmmakers, software developers, investigative journalists, archaeologists, lawyers, and scientists. It undertakes investigations in human rights violations by states or corporations, on behalf of civil society groups.

Russian Strike on the Kyiv TV Tower
Film, 2022

On 1 March 2022, Russia launched a missile strike on the Kyiv TV tower. It was not particularly effective militarily, nor was it among the deadliest strikes in Russia’s attack on Ukraine. However, the significance of targeting the capital city’s main television and radio tower cannot be underestimated in a war that is as much about control over narrative as over land and the people inhabiting it. The missiles targeting the TV tower landed on the territory known as Babyn Yar, the site of one of the worst massacres of the Holocaust. Historical references, particularly ones related to the Second World War and the Holocaust, have been continuously weaponised as part of Russia’s propaganda machine. Given Russian claims about the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, the damaging of one of the Holocaust’s most significant symbolic sites is particularly ironic.
Our investigation seeks to examine the confluence of past and present in this fraught landscape, drawing together a detailed analysis of the recent strike on the TV tower and a spatial reconstruction of the Babyn Yar site — a complex ravine system that used to run through this part of Kyiv. By excavating the historical layers of the Babyn Yar site, we have been able to locate within it the massacres that took place and the multiple attempts made to silence their memory.

The Battle of Ilovaisk
Film, 2014

In late summer of 2014, the Ukrainian Armed Forces battled pro-Russian separatists for control of the town of Ilovaisk, in the border region of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. By September, the separatists had won a resounding victory, routing the retreating Ukrainian army. Even as the battle was ongoing, however, allegations swirled that regular units of the Russian army had joined the battle on the side of the separatists, tipping the balance decisively in their favour. Russia denied the charges. But, in what became a watershed moment for open-source investigation, communities of researchers, reporters, and citizen journalists gathered substantial and compelling open-source evidence for the presence of the Russian military in the region.
Forensic Architecture was commissioned by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) and the Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group (ULAG) to gather the available open-source evidence for the presence of the Russian military in eastern Ukraine, in support of a legal claim against the Russian and Ukrainian states, currently being heard by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
The case concerns the capture and detention of Ukrainian volunteer combatants during the battle of Ilovaisk, by the Russian military and by pro-Russian separatists. In total, we brought together evidence of almost 300 Russian military vehicles in the regions around Ilovaisk and the nearby town of Luhansk.