Hendrikje Alpermann
Doctoral fellow
At IGD until 2023

Hendrikje has been an assistant doctoral student at the Institute of Geography and Sustainability of the University of Lausanne since 2018 in Urban Studies, where she works in the group of prof. Jean Ruegg.

Her doctoral project is situated at the intersection between Urban Studies and STS/ANT. Her research focuses on an ensemble of buildings in Halle-Neustadt (East Germany), which have been empty since the 1990s. Based on a socio-material approach, her work aims to study relations over time between architecture, urban transformation and urban planning after socialism.

Hendrikje studied ethnology in Leipzig, Halle (Saale) and Tbilisi. For her Bachelor's thesis she worked on the social function of architecture by analyzing the example of houses with an inner courtyard in the old city of Tbilisi. For her Master's degree in socio-cultural studies she chose a specialization in urban research in Frankfurt (Oder) and Paris/Marne-la-Vallée. Her Master's thesis focused on the discourses around demolition-reconstruction as the dominant strategy of urban renewal policies in a "sensitive" district in Lyon.

She completed her thesis while being an intern at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS, Department of Urban Regeneration) in Erkner, Germany. After her studies, she worked there as a research assistant for 8 months as part of a study on how cities deal with cultural diversity.

Her thesis project starts from the simple initial question of why the buildings she is studying have not been demolished or renovated in the last 20 years but have remained empty. From there, her work explores questions of relations, practices and time that have contributed to the persistence of the buildings by conducting an ethnographic study in a public planning unit of the city administration of Halle (Saale). This research project traces relations and practices over time and studies the life of the buildings from the point of view of the (non-)realization of their (possible) future between demolition and preservation. Discovering the biography of these buildings through the eyes of the future allows to pay attention also to ideas and projects that have not been realized. This visibilizes the ruptures, repetitions and connections in a building's life that are important but often remain invisible. In this sense, this research also aims to make a conceptual contribution to research in architectural geography.

Turning to modes of future-making and paying particular attention to socio-material and temporal relations allows furthermore to reflect on the techno-political modes of organizing urban transformation and urban vacancy.