The alternative city guide to Leipzig, Germany

The Guardian: “The alternative city guide to Leipzig”

“But with all the recent buzz – referred to sardonically by locals as “hypezig” – some areas are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. Plagwitz, long plugged as the beating heart of the city’s underground art scene, is said to be losing some of its edge. “Plagwitz has been the in area for years, but things have already moved on,” says art project manager Angela Straube-Bornberg. She says those disillusioned with Plagwitz now look to the city’s wilder, undeveloped eastern district. “The students all live there now. There are galleries and wild parties and projects everywhere.” …

Behind the boarded-up shop fronts and pop-up galleries, clubs and cafes are perpetually opening up, and being shut down, sometimes within a matter of weeks.

“There are a lot of empty buildings around here and rents are still cheap,” says Noriko Minkus, co-founder of the Das Japanische Haus e. V., a “post-growth”, not-for-profit community project on Eisenbahnstraße, the district’s core street. “All the young people starting projects makes it a really interesting area. But that means it will soon be under threat from gentrification, too.”

Alongside art exhibitions, concerts and readings, Minkus and her friends organise children’s workshops and communal meals aimed at “bottom-up international exchange” – bringing the local students closer to the area’s relatively large immigrant population.

Eisenbahnstraße is not everyone’s idea of the perfect playground. The street is infamous in Germany as a crime hotspot, disturbing Leipzig’s otherwise friendly, peaceful backwater vibe. But it’s far from being dangerous compared with many global cities. If you visit the Japanisches Haus on a Saturday evening, you can join its VoKü or “people’s kitchen” and, in exchange for a donation, share an informal, home-cooked meal with locals.”