What happened on that night?

A series of coordinated terror attacks occurred in the city of Paris on the 13th of November 2015 from 21:20 until 00:20, in 6 distinct locations and cost the lives of 130 victims and injured between 352 and 368. I will be recounting the events of the Paris attacks where I follow the event details, the condition of time, the nature and construction of the space, and the behaviour of the eyewitnesses during the attacks.

Secondary research was used to highlight the facts of the attacks where sources were comprised of news media articles mostly from the BBC and the Guardian, previous academic reports, and images and video footage from users of social media networks. After acquiring secondary insights about the attacks, content was later contextualized into infographics and images formed a clearer summary of the events.


Research Design, Information Design 



An academic project as part of my Master thesis at Köln International School of Design

Visualizing the attack points across Paris

Stade De France

Operation 01

Stade de France was the first operation where it caused an uproar to an unprecedented night as three sudden explosions occurred. A security guard refused entry to the first bomber, so the first explosion occurred 20 minutes after the game had started. When the second suicide bomb occurred 10 minutes later near the stadium, a third suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest 23 minutes later near a fast food-outlet.

10th & 11th District

Operation 02

The second operation occurred when three attackers drove through selected bars and restaurants, opened fire at each destination for about 5 to 7 minutes and ended with an explosion at the Comptoir Voltaire. The first shooting took place at 21:25 on Rue Bichat and Rue Alibert in the 10th district outside Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge. Afterwards, at 21:32 an assailant opened fire outside Café Bonne Bière and La Casa Nostra and continued at 21:36 on the terrace of La Belle Equipe. Finally, at 21:40, a man detonated his suicide vest at Comptoir Voltaire Cafe after placing an order.

Le Theatre du Bataclan

Operation 03

The third operation took place in a historic concert venue with a packed attendance. A black Volkswagen Polo pulled up outside the Bataclan Theatre and three gunmen wearing suicide belts entered through the main entrance and into the back of the concert hall. They immediately opened fire and threw hand grenades into the crowd. At around 22:00, the attackers took 60-100 people hostage and the situation escalated when the police discussed negotiations with the attackers multiple times over the mobile phone. The Brigade of Research and Intervention (BRI) and the elite French police unit (RAID) launched the assault at 00:20. The assault lasted 3 minutes when a police officer shot one of the gunmen and the other two gunmen detonated their belts.

Visualizing time as a variant of the operations

A closer look at the second operation

Shootings in the 10th & 11th district
Rue Bichat
Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi
Rue de Charonne

Rue Bichat

Le Carillon is located in Eastern Paris near the Canal Saint-Martin on Rue Bichat. Afar, the place is inviting and modest serving cheap drinks and a relaxed atmosphere. Le Petit Cambodge is located right across of Le Carillon. It is a small restaurant that serves Cambodian and Vietnamese food.

Rue De La Fontaine-au-Roi

Café Bonne Bière, located on Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi was the first restaurant to re-open its doors after the Paris attacks. Their entrance banner read ‘Je suis en terrasse’ signified that they are here to stay and customers will enjoy their presence outside on the terrace. There was a memorial that remembered the victims and offered their condolences to the victim’s family.

Rue De Charonne

La Belle Equipe, a restaurant located in the 11th district at Rue de Charonne, was the last bar to re-open its doors ever since the Paris attack. The restaurant has quickly resurfaced with a new appearance to erase the memories of that horrid night. They had also made a memorial by etching names of the 19 victims who passed away that night. In particular, this restaurant has become a symbol of diversity, known as ‘multicultural France.’

Interviews in the 10th & 11th District

Eyewitness’s behavioral responses

The interviews were conducted with a random selection of people in three main locations especially nearby Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge in Rue Bichat, Café Bonne Bièrre and La Casa Nostra in Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi, and La Belle Equipe in Rue de Charonne. Once I visited the areas where the shootings occurred, I interviewed a total of 30 people who participated in recounting their primary reaction, retelling their emotions, and remembering their locations once they heard the shootings. Out of the 30 people, only 4 were outside the district at the time of the shooting. However, the other 26 people were either inside their apartment or in a restaurant or outside on the street.

Emotional Response

The results showed that interviewers highly expressed surprise since the shootings were an unexpected occurrence in a considered tightly knit community. While some were surprised, a lot were mostly confused and afraid since they misinterpreted the sound of gunshots for fireworks and did not immediately know how to react.

Behavioral Response

Interviewers’ reaction to the event also showed that a huge percentage tried to hide from the attackers especially since they were on the street or in shops and restaurants in close proximity to the attackers. While others tried to hide, many others used their mobile phones to notify about their situation.

The results also show that interviewers were most likely to tell or help others around them than run away from the situation. While some interviewers inside a space stayed and helped others get to safety, some others decided to ignore the situation. Finally, the results showed that there was a small percentage of interviewers who directly searched for the news updates at the time of the attacks.

Emotional Response
Behavioral Response