After class on Friday Seth, Kelsey, Pily, and I left for Leipzig. The past week everyone had been asking us what there is to do there, and all we could say was “Seth has friends there, so hopefully they’ll know something to do…” Most descriptions of clubs in the area included the word “sweaty” – a fact we found, obviously, unappealing – so we weren’t sure of what we would do. Our bus dropped us off at the Leipzig airport, where there was much consternation and gnashing of teeth as we failed to see where any local trains might be located. Finally an airport shuttle bus ferried us to the nearest DBahn station where we were forced to board a regional train to Leipzig-proper. From there the system is practically identical to Berlin’s, but it was an unexpected annoyance we would have rather not had to deal with.
We checked into our hostel and then met up with Seth’s friends Tina (whom we met in our previous adventure to Dresden), Juri, and Stephanie at an excellent Indian restaurant. We didn’t end up doing a whole lot during the weekend – mostly walking around and getting a feel for the place. The lake was a bust as well; cold, sporadic rain and wind were hardly conducive to adventures, and they probably weren’t good for our various illnesses (colds, flu, etc.)
Leipzig is considered a “post-industrial”, “shrinking” city that has lost much of its economic strength. This means there are a lot of abandoned buildings, both industrial and residential. Juri is an architect and some of his friends from school have been squatting a building with the intent of turning it into a studio for architecture students to display their latest projects and to mingle with professors and industry professionals. Over the past year they have made extraordinary progress on the interior: they’ve built windows, replaced beams, floors, and ceilings, and have laid out what will soon be an excellent place for students to work and hang out. Each architect will have a personal space to work on and display projects, as well as access to a kitchen and a workshop. There is an open main floor as well for expositions and various other group functions, giving ample space to collaborate and brainstorm (yay, buzzwords!). All in all, the space is designed in a very open and modular way, giving the opportunity to shape it differently in the future with very little effort. Most of the materials used in renovating the interior are recycled: windows, beams, furniture, and many other parts were salvaged from other renovation and demolition projects in the area. I wish there were more opportunities (or more support) for projects like this back home.