The Russian airstrike on the Mariupol Drama Theater

The Center for Spatial Technologies (UA)

The destruction and subsequent occupation of Mariupol by the Russian Armed Forces have fragmented its communities, leaving most survivors dispersed across different regions of Ukraine, other parts of Europe, and beyond reconstruction. This project looks at the bombing of the Mariupol Drama Theater as an emblem of Russia's strategies of terror. Our aim is to assemble the voices of members of the Mariupol Theater diaspora within a digital project of reconstruction.

The CST team has collected and analyzed thousands of social media posts, photographs, and videos in addition to recording over one hundred hours of interviews with witnesses. With no access to the site and with the systematic destruction of both physical and digital evidence, these recollections constitute an essential historical document. We used the model as a backdrop for situated testimonies and later to locate visual materials documenting the theater during the siege and after its occupation.

Our team identified sixty eyewitnesses of the events, out of which twenty-seven agreed to talk to us on record. We invited ten witnesses to participate in further interview sessions using the “situated testimony” technique developed by our partnering organization, Forensic Architecture. This collaborative reconstruction process allowed survivors to ‘walk’ through the virtual space and model different aspects of the building as they remembered it. This process facilitated recollection and helped our team to fill in missing details in the digital models. As each witness recalled their part in this complex event, the model became an increasingly rich assemblage of collective memory.

This study is conducted by the Center for Spatial Technologies (CST) in collaboration with Forensis & Forensic Architecture. We were working with numerous external contributors to make this project happen.  


Core CST team: Maksym Rokmaniko, Mykola Holovko, Daryna Vilkhova, Ksenia Rybak, Valeria Prorizna, Andrii Onyshchenko, Oksana Hrabchak, Sasha Zakrevska, Natasha Pereverzina, Herman Mitish, Orest Yaremchuk.


The Mariupol Theater Project is a long-term endeavor, realized through stages with the support of various financial contributions. The initial research phase, focused on gathering detailed information about the tragedy and planning subsequent activities, was funded by the Porticus Foundation. This foundational work, done in collaboration with Forensic Architecture / Forensis, set the groundwork for a comprehensive approach to documenting and analyzing the events.

Following this, the recording of 12 interviews in the "situational testimony" format, conducted in Kyiv and Berlin, was supported by the ISAR Ednannia Foundation. The International Renaissance Foundation then contributed to the processing and preparation of these interviews for publication. In November 2023, the House of Europe program provided funds for public events in Berlin and Kyiv, aiming to share our research findings with a broader audience.

Detailed List of Credits and Contributions 

The Center for Spatial Technologies (CST) is a transdisciplinary research group based in Kyiv and Berlin, at the intersection of architecture, the social sciences, investigative and artistic practices. Focused on the multifaceted study of urban environments across time, CST collaborates with a diverse array of cultural, academic, and human rights organizations to render visible various societal important issues, and their spatial implications. CST's works are featured on leading global platforms, including The New York Times, the Venice Biennale, and President Volodymyr Zelensky's social media.

The Russian airstrike on the Mariupol Drama Theater merges art, technology, and activism to honour the resilience of the Mariupol community post-tragedy. Led by the Center for Spatial Technologies, it redefines documentation through multimedia installations and witness testimonies, inviting audiences to engage empathetically. With citizen engagement at its core, this initiative is a testament to the power of citizen science in amplifying marginalised voices and challenging historical narratives.