Forensic Architecture was asked by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) to carry out an architectural analysis of the fire that destroyed the Ali Enterprises textile factory on 11 September 2012 in Karachi, Pakistan. Inadequate fire safety measures at the company, a supplier for the German clothes retailer KiK, led to the deaths of 260 factory workers. This investigation uncovers the many ways in which design and management decisions not only failed to prevent injury and casualties, but in fact augmented the death toll.
Our findings have now been submitted to the Regional Court in Dortmund, Germany, where legal action against KiK is ongoing. Since March 2015, the Court has been examining a civil claim against KiK filed by four Pakistanis – one survivor and three relatives of workers killed in the fire – with support from the ECCHR and medico international.
Our analysis of the building and the incident was based on available satellite and ground-level photography, witness sketches, and survivor testimonies, as well as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Joint Investigation Team (JIT) reports that served as material for the case file. As part of our analysis, we constructed a precise, navigable three-dimensional model and a film that illustrates and simulates the path of the fire and studies the building’s vulnerability to it. We also collaborated with other specialists in order to simulate the smoke propagation and the paths that the occupants used to escape the building. We used the crowd and smoke simulations to not only recreate the actual conditions of the fire, but also to test variations in architectural configuration and management of space that is more compliant with the law.
The smoke simulation was made in collaboration with:
Edmund Ang, PhD researcher in advanced computer modelling and fire dynamics, Hazelab at Imperial College London
Prof. Guillermo Rein, Professor of Fire Science at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Imperial College London, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Fire Technology, and leader of the research group Hazelab at Imperial College London
The crowd simulation was made in collaboration with:
Dr Virginia Alonso-Gutierrez, Crowd Simulation Specialist / Fire safety engineer and researcher at ENEVAC
Forensic Architecture Team
Eyal Weizman (principal investigator)
Christina Varvia (project coordinator)
Edmund Ang | Hazelab at Imperial College London
Prof. Guillermo Rein | Hazelab at Imperial College London
Dr. Virginia Alonso-Gutierrez | ENEVAC
Trägt KiK die Verantwortung für 260 Tote? | SPIEGEL TV, 1 February 2018