Seen+Noted: 35,000 layered photos of war-ravaged buildings expose the hidden costs of urban conflict in new ‘Broken Cities’ project
The haunting aftermath of urban conflict comes to life in “Broken Cities,” an immersive experience created by layering 35,000 individual photographs in the first-ever photogrammetric 3D exhibit of the interiors of war-damaged buildings.
This powerful digital experience from the International Committee of the Red Cross takes viewers on a journey through 3D models of Mosul Ibn Sina Teaching Hospital, Aleppo’s Old Bazaar, and a housing tower in Gaza, a region that has endured massive levels of destruction in recent weeks due to urban warfare. Users witness the stories of endurance, solidarity, and revival that emerge from the rubble.
Through captivating storytelling and multimedia exhibits, “Broken Cities” puts viewers in direct contact with the personal narratives of survivors. Feryal, Faiz, Satha, Safwan and others share their struggle to rebuild shattered lives long after the fighting has ceased.
“Broken Cities” relies on photogrammetry, one of the most powerful and accurate surveying technique that exists today. The thousands of overlapping photographs were taken by drones and handheld cameras, ensuring every angle and detail of each structure was captured.
“This unique project pays tribute to civilian survivors and offers a profound window into the human cost of war,” said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC’s regional director for the Near and Middle East. “While cities like Aleppo, Gaza, and Mosul make headlines in war, the long-term needs and ongoing challenges faced by their residents rarely make news. ‘Broken Cities’ urges us to confront the hidden human toll of war in cities and the urgent need for change.”
By shining a light on the role of authorities and the international community in minimizing civilian suffering, “Broken Cities” aims to inspire empathy and action among viewers
When conflict rages in urban areas, the devastating harm inflicted upon civilians is undeniable. Yet, efforts to address the humanitarian consequences have fallen short. “Broken Cities” calls for a commitment to protecting civilians, to emphasizing the importance of respecting international humanitarian law and to avoiding the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas.
By combining photography, technology, and immersive experiences, “Broken Cities” creates a captivating journey that fosters understanding, introspection, and meaningful change. It serves as a catalyst for individuals, communities, and policymakers to reassess their roles in creating a safer space for civilians, even at the worst of wartime.