Forensic Architecture is one of the best research agencies that is located at Goldsmiths, University of London. Additionally, the agency has a team of investigators including scholars, artists, architects, software developers, filmmakers, investigative journalists, archaeologists, scientists, and lawyers. The agency is known for conducting various investigations on major cases all over the world. More so, they present evidence in legal forums, courts, and human rights reports while conducting an investigation. More specifically, this paper summarizes one of the investigations conducted by the agency, discusses the architectural features investigated in the above case, and lastly, analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the methods they used when gathering the evidence.
Forensic Architecture has conducted several investigations. One of the cases is the Outsourcing Risk, where they investigated the Ali Enterprises factory fire which happened on 11 September 2012. As a result, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights asked Forensic Architecture to carry out an architectural analysis of the fire that destroyed the factory. Additionally, inadequate fire safety measures installed in the company led to the tragic death of two hundred and sixty workers. Also, the investigation revealed how poor management and factory design led to not only injuries but also tragic deaths. With the support of ECCHR, four Pakistanis; a survivor, and three close relatives of the victims, filed a case against the KiK, a supplier for German clothes. Additionally, the evidence corrected was presented at the Regional Court in Dortmund, Germany where all legal action against KiK, is being carried out.
When conducting the investigation, Forensic Architecture evaluated several architectural features of the building. Some of the features included space and the fire exits included in the layout. When designing a factory building, one should put adequate space into consideration. More so, adequate space allows the occupants to exit the building safely in case of an emergency. Similarly, adequate space provides room for smoke to clear out of the room in case of fire emergencies. As much as space is necessary for a factory, Paul, and John, (1999) assert that fire exits are necessary for people to vacate the premises in case of a fire. Additionally, several fire exits should be included in the layout of a factory because of the large number of people in the building. With the help of Edmund Ang and Prof. Guillermo Rein, Forensic Architecture created a simulation of the smoke propagation and also the fire exits used to vacate the building.
Forensic Architecture used certain methods to gather evidence despite their strengths and weaknesses. They used satellite imagery, witness sketches, ground level photography, and survivor testimonies, also they used Federal Investigation Agency and Joint Investigation Team reports to generate a case file. However, these methods may not be applicable while conducting other investigations. They constructed navigable three-dimensional models and films to simulate the fire and the building’s vulnerability to it. However, using simulations is rather expensive and requires specialists, therefore, many prefer using other methods. Witnesses and survivors are likely to provide the correct data, however, the agency should be attentive and differentiate between actual and fabricated testimonies. The use of videos and satellite imagery provides the most reliable data however, the evidence collected and the images taken should be carefully studied to avoid misinterpretation of data. Further, misinterpreting data can cause more damage hurting more people.
Paul Stollard, John Abrahams. (1999). Fire from First Principles: A Design Guide to Building Fire Safety. https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=erBfK2SKjakC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=importance+of+fire+exits+in+a+factory+building&ots=xVStXIl78D&sig=YFshQ-uGKwEU3AQrtupYwruRDQU&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=importance%20of%20fire%20exits%20in%20a%20factory%20building&f=false