Forensic Architecture named as 2022 RIBA Charles Jencks Award winner

The Jencks Foundation and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are pleased to announce the 2022 recipient of the RIBA Charles Jencks Award is Forensic Architecture.

08 December 2022

The Jencks Foundation and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are pleased to announce the 2022 recipient of the RIBA Charles Jencks Award is Forensic Architecture. This annual award is given to an individual or practice who has made a major contribution to both the theory and practice of architecture.  

Forensic Architecture will be presented with the award and give a lecture at the RIBA in London on 22 February 2023. The event will include an interview by Thomas Aquilina from the New Architecture Writers programme. Tickets can be reserved here. 

The RIBA Charles Jencks Award was established by architectural historian Charles Jencks 1992. Since 2021, the Jencks Foundation has been coordinating the award with RIBA. Previous recipients include Zaha Hadid, Níall McLaughlin, Herzog & de Meuron and OMA / AMO Rem Koolhaas. In addition to a £3,000 prize, the winner delivers a lecture at the RIBA. 

Forensic Architecture team. Image: Natalia Sliwinska.

Led by Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture is a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, founded in 2010. Forensic architecture is the process and presentation of architectural evidence in relation to the built environment within legal and political processes. The agency partners with institutions from grassroots activists to international NGOs to investigate human rights violations on behalf of communities and individuals. They have presented their work in national and international courts, truth commissions, parliamentary enquiries, and in art and architectural exhibitions. 

Forensic Architecture investigates state violence and surveillance across the globe using architectural tools and techniques. These methods act as a conduit for analysing photographs, videos, and testimonies of violent events in addition to using digital models to interview survivors of violence to access and explore memories of trauma. 

Information on investigations led by Forensic Architecture can be found here

Eyal Weizman, founder and director of Forensic Architecture said: 

“We are particularly honoured to be this year’s recipients of the RIBA Charles Jencks Award for two reasons. Firstly, it’s the first honour we received from the architectural establishment, and we are delighted the discipline demonstrates its commitment to grow and accommodate practices such as ours, which have been launched from architecture in different destinations. We hope that the award helps inspire architects to use their disciplinary tools to fight for justice publicly and politically. It is also an honour because of my friendship with and longstanding admiration of Charles, who supported the work of FA over the years. To be awarded this prize now is thus bittersweet, as we would have loved to celebrate it with him." 

Lily Jencks, founder of the Jencks Foundation said: 

“We are thrilled to award the 2022 RIBA Jencks Award to Forensic Architecture and celebrate their work with a lecture at the ‘House of Architecture’. 

The award is for the simultaneous contribution to architecture practice and theory. We applaud Forensic Architecture as a hybrid practice that is both architecture (understood most broadly as the execution of work that changes the spatial and material relationships between people), and theory- (their studies that create that work). While they do not build buildings, each line of enquiry by Forensic Architecture seeks to effect direct change in the physical world around issues of social justice, using the tools of architects in atypical but masterful ways. 

Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times architecture and design critic and jury member said: 

“Forensic Architecture have created and defined a new field in which the skills, spatial awareness and knowledge associated with the profession have been turned towards social justice and focussed on investigating violence perpetrated by states against their citizens.  Their work has radically redefined architecture as an engagement with human rights, merging new developments in technology, media and investigative techniques which use an architectural intelligence to demand justice for the powerless, the oppressed and at the crises points of the borders.   

Their work, which has been used in international courts, tribunals and parliamentary inquiries as well as being propagated through the cultural sphere in exhibitions and publishing, has marked a huge shift in understanding what architecture can do to redress injustice.” 

The 2022 RIBA Charles Jencks Award jury consisted of RIBA President Simon Allford, Jencks Foundation founder Lily Jencks, Dr. Adrian Lahoud, Dean of the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art, Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times architecture and design critic, and Débora Mesa, Principal of Ensamble Studio and co-founder of WoHo, Thomas Aquilina, architect and co-director of New Architecture Writers programme. 


Notes to editors  

  1. Media contact:  
  2. Download imagery here 
  3. Forensic Architecture (FA) is a research agency, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, investigating human rights violations including violence committed by states, police forces, militaries, and corporations. FA works in partnership with institutions across civil society, from grassroots activists, to legal teams, to international NGOs and media organisations, to carry out investigations with and on behalf of communities and individuals affected by conflict, police brutality, border regimes and environmental violence. Their investigations employ cutting-edge techniques in spatial and architectural analysis, open source investigation, digital modelling, and immersive technologies, as well as documentary research, situated interviews, and academic collaboration. Findings from their investigations have been presented in national and international courtrooms, parliamentary inquiries, and exhibitions at some of the world’s leading cultural institutions and in international media, as well as in citizen’s tribunals and community assemblies.  
  4. The newly established Jencks Foundation acts as a cultural laboratory to promote critical experimentation in Post-Modern culture. The foundation opened The Cosmic House to the public for the first time in September 2021, and continues with a program of exhibitions, commissions, residencies, salons and seminars organised around an annual theme. The Cosmic House -a landmark of Post-Modern architecture- was designed by the architectural historian, critic and designer Charles Jencks and the artist, garden designer and scholar Maggie Keswick complete in 1983. The house contains Charles’ archive from his work as a historian, critic, land artist and co-founder of Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres. The foundation preserves and opens these resources to the public to encourage the study of the architecture and culture of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Instagram  
  5. The New Architecture Writers is a free programme for emerging design writers, develop­ing the journalistic skill, editorial connections and critical voice of its participants. N.A.W. focuses on black and minority ethnic emerging writers who are under-repre­sented across design journalism and curation. A series of evening workshops, talks, and writing briefs form the core of N.A.W.’s programme with one-to-one mentoring from experienced design critics and editors throughout.  
  6. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates. 

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