Lecture and film presentation

A City within a Building

The Center for Spatial Technologies (CST) launch the first part of their investigation into the March 2022 airstrike on the Mariupol theatre.
Following a premiere event in Kyiv, CST director Maksym Rokmaniko and Forensic Architecture director Eyal Weizman will deliver a multi-part lecture introducing the project. The launch will feature the short film “A City within a Building” that reconstructs a picture of life in the besieged theatre – a refuge, and an act of resistance – and presents an online archive, making public a set of previously unseen materials from Mariupol. The page will consist of 3D models, photos, digital artefacts, testimonies, and videos produced in collaboration with more than 20 survivors of the attack, as well as sketches of the building and its history. The film screening will be followed by a discussion.

The image shows a digital reconstruction of the destroyed theater in Mariupol and its park-like surroundings. Some sketches of places and walking routes are drawn by hand over the image.

Digital reconstruction of the destroyed theater in Mariupol: Functional zones during the war

Image courtesy of the CST © CST

Past Dates

The Mariupol theatre airstrike on March 16th 2022 was a shocking milestone in the early weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The theatre had sheltered thousands of civilians during the siege of Mariupol; the word “children” was written on the ground outside, to avoid the theatre being considered as a military target. Nevertheless, a Russian missile struck the building, in what was among the war’s most deadliest airstrikes against civilians.
After the attack on civilians came the attack on evidence. Since Russia took control of Mariupol, occupying authorities have systematically manipulated and erased evidence about the strike on the theatre. In late 2022, the theatre was surrounded by screening, and bulldozed to the ground.
In the face of that erasure – both of evidence of a war crime, and of Ukrainian cultural heritage – CST gathered and analysed thousands of photos, videos, and social media posts, and recorded over 100 hours of never-before-seen witness testimony, to reconstruct a picture of life in the besieged theatre: a refuge, and an act of resistance.

The film tells the story of that life, through the words of those that lived it. It is a story of a self-organised social network, which fed, clothed, and cared for one another and their neighbours, traded with other sheltering communities, and exercised collective decision-making, becoming a full and functioning city within a single building.

The future chapters of the investigation about the Mariupol theatre airstrike will be dealing with the bombing itself. CST will uncover what ammunition was used, where the bomb landed, how many casualties were inflicted, who they were and where they occurred. The online archive will be updated permanently.

About the Center for Spatial Technologies

The Center for Spatial Technologies (CST) is a Kyiv-based cross-disciplinary research centre. They work with a wide range of topics, using spatial analysis and visualisation techniques. Since the beginning of 2022, CST has focused on analysing civilian damage caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The primary method of their work is a spatial analysis that CST develops in the centre, which collects quite an extensive range of information. The model allows itself to become a field for study as it drafts the connections between the various objects around it.


About Forensis

Founded in 2021 in Berlin as a non-governmental, not-for-profit association (e.V.), Forensis works for and in collaboration with individuals and communities affected by state and corporate violence, to support their demands for justice, reparations, and accountability.

Drawing on techniques and methodologies developed at the Goldsmiths, University of London-based Forensic Architecture (FA), and the groundbreaking exhibition “Forensis” (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin 2014), we are an interdisciplinary team of researchers with expertise in spatial and visual investigation, time-based 3D reconstruction, cartographic platforms, and open source investigation. We produce evidence for presentation in national and international courts, human rights forums, parliamentary inquiries, truth commissions and people’s tribunals.



Research support by Forensis and Forensic Architecture.
Project support by The Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia” and Porticus