The Investigative Commons is an expanded community of practice that includes investigative agencies and reporters, lawyers, activists, whistleblowers, scientists, artists, architects, filmmakers, software developers and cultural institutions. Amongst us are members of communities, organizations and individuals who are at the forefront of interconnected struggles.

We investigate the involvement and complicity of state and corporate agencies in cases of right-wing violence, racist policing and border regimes, urban warfare, gender-based violence, violations of labor rights, and cyber-surveillance, while supporting demands for reparations for the ongoing crimes of colonialism.

Our evidence is used where it can best generate change and is often featured in a range of different forums: national and international courts, civil tribunals and truth commissions, in the media and in art and cultural venues.

In our Berlin offices, the Investigative Commons seeks to provide a dynamic platform to advance conceptual and technical research through skill-sharing and co-learning, and promote critical debate about contemporary political challenges, technology, human rights, media and aesthetics through a public program consisting of lectures, workshops, and conferences.

Who we are


Al-Haq Forensic Architecture Investigation Unit (FAI Unit)
Border Forensics
Center for Spatial Technologies
Centre for Research Architecture
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (Host)

ECCHR is a global NGO that, in collaboration with partners and affected people, intervenes legally to oppose human rights violations and to advocate for the realization of universal human rights.

Febrayer Network
Forensic Architecture (Host)

Forensic Architecture (FA) 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.

Forensis (Host)

Forensis is FA’s sister agency in Berlin. Founded in 2021 as a non-profit association, Forensis is working for and in collaboration with individuals and communities affected by state and corporate violence, to support their demands for justice, reparations, and accountability.

Liminal Laboratory
Plano Negativo


Open Verification

Open verification – the central methodology of the Investigative Commons – depends on the creation of a community of practice in which the production of an investigation is socialized. Rather than being confined to the black boxes of institutional authority, it is based on open processes and new alignments between different actors and institutions of diverse types and standings: people who experience violence firsthand and lead the struggle for justice, activists who take their side, and a diffused network of open-source investigators, scientists, and other experts.

Resisting the actions that tear apart our common lived-world, our work is collaborative, situated, poli-perspectival and based on diverse forms of knowledge and expertise. Our shared alignment is in pursuit of accountability. A communal interrogation of events relies on the establishment of a social contract that includes all the participants in a growing assemblage of production and dissemination of knowledge. Our cases not only establish evidence of what has happened, but also embody the social relations which made this evidence possible.

The result is a diffused "commons" in which the production of facts constitutes the foundation of an expanding epistemic community of practice. This commons is not fenced off, but remains accessible, with its margins open to new information, perspectives, disagreements and interpretations.

Investigative Aesthetics

Investigative Commons are formed through aesthetic practices. Though aesthetic sensibilities and the work of imagination may seem anathema to the "cold" protocols by which evidentiary material is verified and analyzed, investigative work is entangled with aesthetics in multiple ways.

In this sense, aesthetics is the means of socializing the presentation of evidence - a way of finding new and alternative venues in which political claims can be articulated, performed, seen, and heard. We use the term “aesthetics” to refer to the “sensing” of the world (from the ancient Greek *aisthesis*), but this sensing also extends beyond human perception to the realm of animals, plants, material surfaces and technological devices. The aesthetic field includes a vast array of signals, embedded in the most unlikely of places, which can potentially be deciphered.

Investigative aesthetics brings together the “sensing” of a wide range of sources – chemical traces registered by the leaves of plants, or the cracks and fissures in building materials in the wake of a blast, for example – and assembles them into a larger, multi-perspectival picture that can be used as evidence in a variety of forums.

Critical Introspection

The Investigative Commons develops and tests new technologies, for the next generation of investigative practices. We combine situated knowledge and lived experience with repurposed contemporary technologies that may include open-source investigations, machine learning and immersive VR and AR, as well as reconstructions within simulated architectural environments or repurposed game engines.

The exponential proliferation of online media has created new possibilities for participatory fact-finding and verification. The field of open-source investigation, which began as a narrow area of internet-based research has since expanded to include new forms of intelligence and technologies that have revolutionized investigative practices.

In deploying and repurposing technologies in innovative ways, our investigations have a double aim. They are both investigations of events in the world, and inquiries into the technologies we use to investigate them. Careful, critical employment of technologies can offer an opportunity for introspection into the biases ingrained within them.

Just as every use of satellite photography must acknowledge the technology’s military history and "resolution biases", a critical employment of machine learning should similarly seek to explore and shed light on the computational processes at its heart, which otherwise remain opaque and unaccountable. The necessity for critical interrogation of sensing is made abundantly clear in a world full of sophisticated gadgets and “sensors” which are programmed to surveille, eavesdrop, register, record and respond to human behavior, movement, preferences as well as to changing conditions within environments.

Socializing Evidence

The counter-forensic work of the Investigative Commons not only takes advantage of a multiplicity of sources; it also lends itself to being presented in a range of alternative venues, beyond the courtroom.

Unlike in courts, in gallery and museum exhibitions, citizen assemblies, and in some of the media forums, the social, political and historical significance of the cases investigated could be unpacked.

While enganged in producing evidence, the Investigative Commons is simultaneously committed to critically interrogating media technologies, politics and aesthetics and their associated truth regimes. Events, exhibitions, lectures and seminars, in collaboration with cultural institutions, will ask what constitutes evidence, and how and why certain kinds of data are afforded legitimacy and authority, while others are discredited or relegated to obscurity.


A Сity Within a Building: The Russian Airstrike on the Mariupol Drama Theater

09.03.2024 17.00

NGbK Am Alex Berlin


The bombing of the Mariupol Drama Theatre on March 16, 2022, a few weeks after the beginning of the Russian all-out invasion, is one of the worst atrocities committed by the occupying power against the civilian population. This latest joint research by the Kyiv-Berlin based Center for Spatial Technologies and Berlin-based Forensis focuses on the three-week period between the start of the large-scale Russian invasion and the March 16 air strike. During this period, the theater became a self-organized commune and an act of resistance: a “city within a building.” Through hours of interviews with survivors of the attack, the living world of the theater is carefully reassembled, exploring with great sensitivity the emerging interactions of memory, space, and trauma.

Presentation by the Center for Spatial Technologies with Maksym Rokmaniiko, Svitlana Matviyenko, Kseniia Rybak, and Isabelle Haßfurther. In English with simultaneous translation into German.

Inherited Testimonies: The German Colonial Genocide in Namibia

03.12.2023 14.00-17.00

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) Berlin


In 1893 the German Schutztruppen attacked the Witbooi Nama settlement of ||Nâ‡gâs, also known as Hornkranz, in German Southwest Africa (present-day Namibia). This was the beginning of a genocidal campaign against the Herero and Nama peoples that reached its peak between 1904 and 1908. This project, led by the Nama Traditional Leaders Association (NTLA) and the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), seeks to uncover traces of the genocide buried within the Namibian environment but present in the hearts of its affected communities within the transformed physical environment, climate, vegetation, and the oral tradition of its peoples. 

Inherited Testimonies is a live performance of culturally inherited, collective testimonies, delivered by traditional leaders, and oral historians within a continuously transformed visual and auditory immersive environment – a large projection of evolving architectural and environmental scenes – conceived by Forensic Architecture/Forensis. 

The words of traditional witnesses are delivered within and in relation to space, activated by their relation to body, and screen. The testimonies are delivered as an act of collective construction of an environment, as a form of ‘world building’ and navigating within it. 

The meaning of the landscape is gradually revealed as it gets inhabited with structures, objects, indigenous plants, and archival images. 

Contesting the western legal contexts in which testimony is an institutionally regulated and circumscribed act, the event offers a form of immersive, situated, oral, trans-generational testimony and inhabits a space of trauma that is diffuse, continuous, collective, and cumulative. 

This interaction is an attempt to reconstruct lost sites of atrocity such as the extermination camp in Shark Island and the massacre of Hornkranz as well as the lost world—an environment transformed by colonial violence and the theft of Indigenous land.

Memory Theater


Haus der Berliner Festspiele Berlin


The bombing of the Mariupol Drama Theatre on 16 March 2022, in the early weeks of the Russian invasion, was one of worst atrocities against civilians committed by the occupying forces. But what was destroyed there, and in the following months, was not only the fabric of a theatre building. Up to two thousand civilians found shelter in the building and turned it into an architectural-scale city with places for debate, shelter, and mutual care. Until the machinery of the Russian occupiers bulldozed it, the building was also evidence of a grave war crime.

The latest joint investigation by the Kyiv-based Center for Spatial Technologies and the Berlin-based Forensis explores the three weeks between the start of the Russian full-scale invasion and the airstrike of 16 March. During this time, the theatre became a self-organised commune and an act of resistance: a “City Inside a Building”. The lecture narrates the building‘s history as a historical site of cultural identity. Through hours-long interviews with survivors of the attack, the life-world of the theatre is painstakingly reassembled while the evolving interactions between memory, space, and trauma are sensitively explored.

Taking this collaborative work as a starting point, Weizman and Rokmaniko will explore the tensions between evidence and testimony through what the agencies call “situated testimony”, where witnesses design and walk through a three-dimensional model of the building. The lecture will also address the nature of their collaborative investigative practice, developed through Forensic Architecture, which supported this investigation, the practices and difficulties of preserving evidence in wartime, and the complexities of working, investigating, and interviewing under the shadow of conflict.

A City within a Building


Gropius Bau Berlin


On 16 March 2023 the Center for Spatial Technologies (CST) will publish the first chapter of their work on the 2022 airstrike on the Mariupol theatre, in collaboration with Forensis and supported by Forensic Architecture. The launch will feature a short film – ‘A City within a Building’ – and an online ‘archive’, making public a set of previously unseen materials from Mariupol, including 3D models, photos, digital ‘artefacts’, testimonies, and videos produced in collaboration with more than 20 survivors of the attack.

To coincide with this launch, following a premiere event in Kyiv, CST director Maksym Rokmaniko and Forensic Architecture/Forensis director Eyal Weizman will deliver a multi-part lecture introducing the project and screening the film, followed by a discussion.

Investigating Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine


European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) Berlin and ONLINE


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has led to an unprecedented array of accountability initiatives for the crimes committed in this ongoing war of aggression. Both state institutions and civil society across the world have taken action to investigate and examine atrocities in Ukraine.

To learn more about how human rights organizations have approached the fight for justice, together with our guests, we want to explore existing efforts in addressing these crimes and discuss the challenges and differences compared to international crimes committed elsewhere. In this context, we particularly focus our discussion on how to combine the complementary aspects of open source investigation and strategic case building to increase the impact of civil society collaborations and interventions.

Вторгнення Росії в Україну у лютому 2022 року призвело до появи безпрецедентної кількості ініціатив, спрямованих на забезпечення притягнення до відповідальності за злочини, скоєні під час цієї триваючої агресивної війни. Як державні установи, так і громадянське суспільство у всьому світі вживають заходів задля проведення розслідування і дослідження звірських злочинів в Україні.

Щоб дізнатися більше про те, як правозахисні організації реалізують заходи з боротьби за правосуддя, разом із нашими гостями ми хочемо дослідити існуючі зусилля, спрямовані на реагування на ці злочини, та обговорити виклики і труднощі, у порівнянні з міжнародними злочинами, скоєними в інших місцях. У цьому контексті в ході цього обговорення ми зосереджуємо особливу увагу на тому, як поєднувати взаємодоповнюючі аспекти розслідувань на основі даних із відкритих джерел та стратегічної підготовки справ, щоб посилити вплив співпраці громадянського суспільства та їхніх ініціатив.

Three Doors

05.11.2022 – 30.12.2022

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) Berlin

Simulation of audibility in the neighborhood of shots fired at the perpetrator house.
© Forensic Architecture and Forensis

It is nearly three years since nine people were murdered in a racist terror attack in Hanau. It is nearly eighteen years since Oury Jalloh was burnt to death in a police cell in Dessau. The victims’ families, friends and the survivors are still struggling for accountability.

Separating and connecting different domains – state, public and private – doors are physical objects but also social contracts. The exhibition presents three investigations, each concerned with a door, unraveling different aspects of racist violence in Germany: In Hanau, it is the locked emergency exit door of the Arena Bar and the front door of the perpetrator’s house through which the police failed to pursue him. In Dessau, it is the door of the police cell in which Oury burnt to death. Closed when they needed to be broken through, open when they needed to be shut and locked when they needed to be unlocked, these doors embody a failure of the social order; to understand how, these investigations reconstruct the larger context around them, illuminating long-lasting and troubling relationships between racist perpetrators and state agencies in Germany.

Since its first presentation at the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Three Doors has directly influenced the ongoing responses to the Hanau terror attack in politics, society and the media. Now, the exhibition, along with guided tours and a public program, draws upon the experiences of relatives, survivors and supporters to give visibility to their continuing struggle – and to shed light on deeply entrenched racist structures within Germany – just a stone’s throw from the German federal parliament.

The exhibition Three Doors by Forensic Architecture/Forensis, Initiative 19. Februar Hanau and Initiative in Gedenken an Oury Jalloh was co-produced with Frankfurter Kunstverein.

Guided exhibition tour through Three Doors

20.11.2022 – 18.12.2022

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) Berlin

Three Doors, Ausstellungsansicht, © HKW / Miguel Brusch

With Initiative 19. Februar Hanau, Forensic Architecture, family members, survivors

Meeting point: box office
Free admission, with registration

Language: In German
Registration via

  • Sun, Nov 20, 2022 at 3pm
  • Sun, Nov 27, 2022 at 3pm
  • Sun, Dec 11, 2022 at 3pm
  • Sun, Dec 18, 2022 at 3pm

The German Colonial Genocide in Namibia


Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) Berlin

FA/Forensis/OGF, 2022. Archival image courtesy of Koloniales Bildarchiv, Universitätsbilbiothek Frankfurt/Main, A-0ii-6966.

Between 1904 and 1908, German imperial forces perpetrated the first genocide of the 20th century in then German South-West Africa, involving the targeted ‘extermination’ of large numbers of Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama people and the killing of many others. The conference presents the initial stage of ongoing collaborative research and discusses the effects of these colonial crimes.

Three Doors

03.06.2022 - 11.09.2022

Frankfurter Kunstverein (FKV) Frankfurt

Forensic Architecture/Forensis, Ausstellungsansicht Frankfurter Kunstverein 2022 mit der Untersuchung “Rassistischer Terroranschlag in Hanau: Das Haus des Täters” und die Zeittafel “Vorfälle und Ungewissheit, Photo: Norbert Miguletz, ©Frankfurter Kunstverein

Under the title Three Doors – Forensic Architecture/Forensis, Initiative 19. Februar Hanau, Initiative in Gedenken an Oury Jalloh, the Frankfurter Kunstverein has invited the research agencies Forensic Architecture and Forensis to jointly develop an exhibition from 2 June to 11 September 2022, in which three new works by Forensic Architecture and Forensis are presented. Their visual investigations into the 19 February 2020 racist terrorist attack in Hanau are the main focus of the show. A new plausibility study on the case of Oury Jalloh, who burned to death in a police cell in Dessau in 2005, is also being presented. In addition, the exhibition highlights ongoing investigations, such as those into the NSU murders and international human rights violations, in order to illustrate a spectrum of forensic and imaging science methodologies.

The exhibition arose as a collaboration between various parties: the research agency Forensic Architecture, its affiliated agency Forensis Berlin, Initiative 19. Februar Hanau, Initiative in Gedenken an Oury Jalloh, journalists and documentarists, and the cultural institution Frankfurter Kunstverein. They work as a coalition of civil society forces and experts in various fields.

Bringing Greek pushbacks to justice



Push-backs Across the Evros/Meriç: Film still of the analysis of Parvin’s case © Forensic Architecture

Severely beaten, secretly detained and forcibly returned from Greece six times, Parvin A filed a complaint at the UN Human Rights Committee for multiple violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in February 2022. Her case exposes the systematic Greek practice of pushbacks owing to digital evidence she was able to preserve from inside detention and at the border which was analyzed as part of a Forensic Architecture investigation

Socializing Evidence


Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) Berlin

Still from Safari Prop V3 by Decolonize This Place

The rise of counterfactual politics on- and off-line, presents societies with a dilemma. One option is to buttress the institutional basis of factual authority by supporting the existing judiciary, media, universities and cultural venues. Another approach, presented here, is more risky: to seize the contemporary moment of institutional crisis as an opportunity for a radical transformation of the way facts are produced and disseminated. This approach responds to the current skepticism towards institutional pronouncements with a vital form of collective truth-production; one that is both diffused and diverse, based on establishing an expanded community of practice that incorporates aesthetic and scientific sensibilities. Organized by one such community of practice, the Investigative Commons, this event brings together investigators, lawyers, activists, artists, architects and academics. They will discuss the ways in which new investigative practices have the potential to challenge different forums for the presentations of facts and articulation of claims: the mainstream media brought into crisis by the growth of ‘open source’ and 'citizen’ journalism; museums, which have been turned into sites of political contestation; and the courts where new kind of evidence, citizen-produced and crowd-verified, challenges traditional legal process.

European Arms in the Bombing of Yemen



Yemen Platform – Airstrike Filters

In December 2019, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Mwatana and their European partner organisations called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the criminal responsibilities of corporate and government executives of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. In a 350-page communication submitted to the ICC, the organisations argued that by issuing export authorisations and exporting arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, these European actors may be contributing to serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen, including war crimes.

The platform, developed by the ECCHR, Forensic Architecture, FORENSIS, Bellingcat, and Yemeni Archive, the first project of the new Investigative Commons community of practice, exposes the patterns of indiscriminate attacks by the coalition against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen. The platform demonstrates for the first time the direct impact of European arms exports on the continuous targeting of civilians and civilian spaces on the ground. It does so by exposing the relationships between documented airstrikes, found remnants of European weapons, and a timeline of arms exports from European countries to the coalition.

Made in Europe, bombed in Yemen

The platform allows visitors to filter the targets of coalition-led airstrikes according to types of infrastructural damage, casualties, and identifying remnants left behind (Forensic Architecture, 2021)

Despite documented attacks on civilian homes, markets, hospitals and schools in Yemen conducted by the Saudi/UAE-led military coalition, transnational companies based in Europe continue to supply Saudi Arabia and the UAE with weapons, ammunition and logistical support. European government officials authorized the exports by granting licenses.

In 2019, ECCHR (Germany), Mwatana for Human Rights (Yemen), Amnesty International (France), the Campaign Against Arms Trade (UK), Centre Delàs (Spain) und Rete Disarmo (Italy) call upon the ICC to investigate the legal responsibility of corporate and political actors from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK. The Communication focuses, among others, on Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, BAE Systems Plc., Dassault Aviation S.A., Leonardo S.p.A. and Rheinmetall AG. The 350-page Communication details 26 airstrikes conducted by the Saudi/UAE-led coalition, which may amount to war crimes.

The platform, developed by the ECCHR, Forensic Architecture, Forensis, Bellingcat, and Yemeni Archive, the first project of the new Investigative Commons community of practice, exposes the patterns of indiscriminate attacks by the coalition against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen. The platform demonstrates for the first time the direct impact of European arms exports on the continuous targeting of civilians and civilian spaces on the ground. It does so by exposing the relationships between documented airstrikes, found remnants of European weapons, and a timeline of arms exports from European countries to the coalition.

Bringing Greek pushbacks to justice

Parvin A fled Iran due to gender-based persecution in 2017. She was recognized as a refugee in Turkey by UNHCR, but this was not acknowledged by Turkish authorities, who denied her asylum. During her quest for a safe place, she was unlawfully detained and violently pushed back six times by Greek officers across the Evros river and the Aegean Sea from February to June 2020.

Greek officers subjected her to multiple human rights violations, intentionally denying her any rights or legal safeguards. She was unlawfully detained in incommunicado detention in filthy conditions, subjected to gratuitous physical violence, and summarily expelled without a chance to challenge her expulsion. Her complaint claims violations of the ICCPR in relation to her summary arbitrary expulsion, and ill-treatment under Articles 7, 16 and 2(3) as well as 9 and 10 for her detention. She filed it against Greece to the UN Human Rights Committee with the support of ECCHR and Forensic Architecture.

Russian attack on Kyiv TV tower

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, especially 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 their claims about the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine, the damaging of one of the Holocaust’s most significant symbols, 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.

Restituting Evidence: Genocide and Reparations in German Colonial Namibia

Colonial photographs crop indigenous peoples out of the wider territory of their ancestral homeland, fragmenting their life worlds. We set out to return these images to their context, by reconstructing the contemporary landscape of Waterberg in a game engine. / Image source: Koloniales Bildarchiv, Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt/Main (Forensic Architecture/Forensis, 2022)

These eight short videos present the preliminary findings of a multiyear, multiphase investigation conducted by Forensic Architecture/Forensis in partnership with the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu Genocide Foundation. At the initiative of ECCHR, we undertook a process of collaborative modelling and mapping of key sites in the genocide and other as-yet-unaccounted-for atrocities committed by Germany against the Ovaherero and Nama people of Namibia between 1904 and 1908. Further materials related to the investigation are forthcoming.

Germany’s colonial crimes against the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu, and Nama in South West Africa (present-day Namibia) have for too long evaded international public scrutiny and legal redress. While Germany has in recent years accepted moral responsibility for the genocide, they disclaim legal responsibility, avoiding the obligation to pay reparations and facilitate restitution. Across Namibia, monuments honour the perpetrators of genocide, mass graves of victims are unmarked, and sites of atrocity fall into ruin. The majority of the country’s viable land is owned by white descendants of European colonists while Black descendants of genocide victims live in intergenerational poverty.

As artefacts of a colonial gaze, archival photos pose and fragment the life-worlds of the country’s Indigenous peoples to legitimise and advance the colonial project. Spatialising such images evidences the colonial strategy of dominating and supplanting longstanding indigenous settlements. Using our methodology of ‘situated testimony,’ we merged archival photographs and oral testimony within 3D models of sites of genocide and other colonial atrocities in order to locate ancestral Indigenous homesteads and burial grounds; to locate concentration camps used to incarcerate Herero people; to document German and later South African theft of Indigenous land, which has set the unbreakable foundations of land distribution in Namibia today; and to begin to investigate colonialism’s intertemporal degradation of the environment. The preliminary result is a new body of digital evidence that can be leveraged by local communities and their legal advocates in support of long-standing demands for land restitution and reparations.

Mariupol Drama Theater

On 16 March 2022, a Russian airstrike destroyed the Mariupol Drama Theater, where residents of the city had sought refuge. The Ukrainian Center for Spatial Technologies is collecting media materials about this event and the history of the theater, auch as photos, videos, and social media posts. They also conducted situated testimonies with 12 witnesses. An archive bringing together the collected material around a 3D model of the theater is coming soon.

More coming soon