Design Museum Named Counter Investigations by Forensic Architecture Best Design of 2018

Design Museum Named Counter Investigations by Forensic Architecture Best Design of 2018

Counter Investigations, an exhibition of work by Forensic Architecture, has been named the 2018 Beazley Design of the Year by the Design Museum. Forensic Architecture works to uncover miscarriages of justice and international war crimes through the architectural analysis of imagery.

From official news and smartphone footage to satellite images, minute clues and fragmentary evidence are painstakingly analyzed to create full 3D reconstructions of events, allowing the team to verify disputed information. Like a war crime CSI, Counter Investigations staged Forensic Architecture's modes of analysis through the use of maps, screens, text, films and other evidence.

"In a field of such diversity and brilliance it is invidious to choose the 'best' but Forensic Architecture have invented a new paradigm in the search for the truth," commented Robert Devereux, Chairman of the Jury, The Conduit. "Their application of architectural skills to the re-creation of past events is extraordinarily innovative, intellectually rigorous and will make a significant contribution to justice. Their presentation at the ICA was stimulating, engaging and accessible."

"By breaking conventional boundaries and ways of thinking, Forensic Architecture demonstrates how an impressively persistent and creative use of existing data and tools, applied in an open and collaborative manner, can be an effective way to challenge existing narratives and power structures in the pursuit for truth and justice," added jury member Melodie Leung, Senior Associate, Zaha Hadid Architects.

Category Winners


Designers: Heatherwick Studio
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town strikingly repurposes a former grain silo made obsolete by containerised shipping. For this post-industrial project, designer Thomas Heatherwick carved out a dramatic, skylit central atrium from within the original 42 tightly packed concrete silos to reveal startling geometries, while also converting them for gallery use. Faceted glass windows were also punched out of the building's grading tower to create a kaleidoscopic effect.


Counter Investigations: Forensic Architecture
Designers: Forensic Architecture


Costumes for The Royal Ballet production of Corybantic Games by Christopher Wheeldon
Designers: Erdem Moralıoğlu
Womenswear designer Erdem Moralıoğlu created 24 costumes for a new ballet set to Leonard Bernstein's Serenade, after Plato: Symposium. Inspired by the Classical Greek themes of the piece, Erdem juxtaposed armour-like ribbon detailing with ethereal sheer tutus, while the champagne-coloured satin bodices and careful pleating evoked the 1950s era of Bernstein's original score.


Trash Isles for LADbible and Plastic Oceans Foundation
Designers: Plastic Oceans Foundation with LADbible
An accumulation of plastic waste covering an area the size of France is currently floating in the Pacific Ocean - though little is being done to address it, as it occupies international waters. Involving the creation of a 'national identity', complete with passports, stamps and currency, the Trash Isles campaign was launched to enlist citizen-petitioners to persuade the United Nations to recognise the waterborne mass of debris as an official country, forcing the global community to deal with it as a member of the UN Environmental Charter.


Designers: Prakash Lab
Paperfuge is a hand-powered centrifuge made of string, plastic and paper. It can spin biological samples at thousands of revolutions per minute, separating pure plasma from whole blood. This is a critical step in the diagnosis of infections such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis. The device costs just 20 cents, weighs two grammes, and can easily be carried in a doctor's pocket, making point-of-care diagnostics possible virtually anywhere.


Falcon Heavy
Designers: SpaceX
On 6 February 2018, SpaceX successfully launched the world's most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy. Capable of lifting 64,000 kilograms into low earth orbit, it is more than twice as powerful as its two main competitors. It is also considerably cheaper to launch than other rockets its size: among other reasons, its empty launch boosters are retrieved after lift-off for future use.

Photo: Mark Blower, Forensic Architecture

Forensic Architecture