I spent the last few days in Leipzig. While there I met the owner of KaffeeÂ Schwartz, Raymond Romanos, who introduced me to some of the issues facing East Germany. He told me about the initially drastic, now steady drift west, and Leipzig’s abandoned apartment conundrum.Â Because so many people left their state appropriated dwellings no one really knows who these buildings belong to, and without the population to fill them they are falling to decay. There are government efforts to invigorate these spaces, and I stumbled into so many cute FrÃ¼hstÃ¼ck pay by donation restaurants, and saw plenty of people making live performance art, whole buildings filled with artist studios and so many cute shops and cafÃ©s. I heard about friends buying whole buildings for â‚¬20,000 to make them over together. There is a vibrant aliveness to Leipzig, but it is hard to temper the still nearly 50,000 empty apartments.
I wanted to see some of these buildings for myself, so asked a friend to take me on an urban archaeology expedition.