The Leipziger Stadtteilexpeditionen (Leipzig Quarter Expeditions) explore the city from the perspective of its citizens. Each expedition is developed in a collaborative process with one quarter’s dwellers. The aim is to offer an opportunity for intimate encounters and to reshape the mental maps of the city, beyond city marketing and media response.
How well do you know your city?
In Leipzig, as in every other city, every quarter has a certain reputation. Some are very popular, whilst others are known as ‘no go areas’. How often do you go for a walk in your hometown to get an idea of the places you normally never go? How can you know if the reputations of the quarters are accurate? Would this change the scope of your urban action?
The Leipziger Stadtteilexpeditionen (Leipzig Quarter Expeditions) aim to challenge this. One quarter at a time we explore the living environment in collaboration with the dwellers. What’s your favourite place? What would you like to show a visitor? And what would you prefer to hide?
We move into a temporary office for a week and invite the neighbourhood. We open a one day “sharing café” where we share our homemade cakes in exchange for stories, memories or visions. We invite everyone to discuss the official reputation of the quarter and we talk to those people who actually shape it. And we go for daily walks to meet and talk to as many people as possible. The final expedition is developed in a participatory process. Those who want to be involved are invited to be an active part of it. This means that every expedition is a bit different, depending on the ideas of the participants.
The final expedition lasts for only one day. We hand out a map and the “guests” walk around on their own and decide what they want to explore, who they want to meet and how long they want to stay. At the end we invite guests, neighbours and participants for a get together in our temporary project space to exchange their experiences and to draw a personal mental map of the city.
The first three expeditions explored a quarter in east Leipzig that has a very bad reputation. It was referred to as “The worst street in Germany” in a TV documentary. One guest who was afraid to come to Eisenbahnstrasse overcame her fear and gave this feedback: “Your expedition managed to reduce my fears, to discover new things, meet new people and engage in Leipzig’s East. The Stadtteilexpedition is a nice and lasting way to get to know a quarter better. Thank you for that amazing day!”
This August we move to the next quarter: Reudnitz.