Cities are our natural world, created by us and yet, in their constantly shifting complexity, almost beyond our grasp. Urbanization processes do not end at the city boundaries. Almost infinite networks, alienated communication, hasty consumption and conflicts of social marginalization or economic injustice determine our urban survival. Cities form contested spaces, whose present refers back to the past, whose power structures can be identified and also changed. It is important to predict the need for change well in advance but also to be able to react to acute crises great and small with fresh solutions.

Innovations are driven on a bottom-up basis. Not infrequently they arise at the margins of society, where established structures encounter influences from without, traditional responses no longer work, or safeguards apply to some but not to others.
The projects developed in the studio situation of our Social Design program show that societal innovation–meaning extraordinary results and unexpected approaches–becomes possible where different forms of knowledge and methods interact, where artistic acumen combines with creativity from the so-called hard sciences, where design, theory, architecture and the fine arts not only pool their strategies but also enter into confrontations and alliances that can be both risky and productive.

Innovative methods construct new meanings, strengthen responsibility and thus create the preconditions for identification with one’s own actions. Students who choose the Master’s in Social Design – Arts as Urban Innovation signal their determination to play a critical and active part in influencing society and a refusal to discount the future!


The master programme Social Design Arts as Urban Innovation at the University of Applied Arts Vienna is oriented towards graduates from diverse fields of study, thereby stipulating work in transdisciplinary teams as the central teaching and learning approach in the programme. On the basis of professional competences acquired in their respective previous studies, students become acquainted with transcending disciplinary codes and thinking and working in greater interrelationships. Art in synergy with project-related scientific methods and knowledge is seen as a tool for urban innovation.

Duration and Scope:
4 semesters / 120 ECTS 
Graduation: "Master of Arts" (MA)

Download the curriculum as a PDF:  Deutsch  English



Ulduz Ahmadzadeh

Artist, Vienna/Teheran

Ulduz grew up as a dancer in Teheran/Iran, a country prohibiting dance. She pursued her illegal dance career anhow whilst facing repression and arrest. She was involved in several dance and theater ensembles and studied direction at the Arts University Soureh in Teheran. She lives in Vienna since 2008 and works as a dancer, teacher and choreographer. She sees it as her duty to uphold the precious cultural heritage of persian dance through her work.

Dance, Performance

Jana Alaraj

Architect, Vienna

Jana Alaraj is a Palestinian Architect from Bethlehem, currently studying Social Design in Vienna. She is looking to raise awareness, expose assumptions, provoke actions and to spark critical debates in different societal circumstances through designing alternative scenarios. After graduation in architecture, she worked as a teacher and research assistant at Birzeit University and later at the British Museum as a program facilitator for the ITP (International Training Program).

Designing alternative scenarios

Mu Bo

Industrial Designer, Wuhan

Graduated from Art and Design Master Program at the Ceramic Institute of Jingdezhen in 2010. He keeps working on research of clay and glaze, and the production of sustainable material and forms. In the field of Social Design, he focuses on problems brought by the rapid urbanization of China, especially on the extinction of rural culture and how to inherit and develop the rural culture in the process of community construction.

Ceramic Industrial Design
+86 18108616647

Nadia Brandstätter

Project manager and creative consultant, Sydney/Vienna

Nadia has a BA of Arts in Communication from the University of Technology Sydney and completed a MA of Arts in Social Design in 2015. Since 2017, she has been occupied as a freelancer in the creative industries sector and has worked in the education sector. She was Co-Founder of the creative platform Oh THAT Place and most recently worked as a Project Manager for Vienna Design Week, overseeing the festival’s Social Design format ‘Stadtarbeit’ (city work).

creative industries

Florian Burger

Political adviser, Vienna

Social cohesion in societies and democracy itself depend on a certain level of (social) security. To shape and design those elemental backup systems is what pushes Florian. Process design is a daily applied technique, supported by visualization. Florian studied jurisprudence at the Paris Lodron University and Social Design at the University of Applied Arts.


La Schandrè Coetzee

Social Designer, Vienna

Through her work in numerous community development projects in South Africa and Namibia she learned that in order for real change to foster, social development and initiatives need to be incorporated in to all facets of human life. From her perspective, Social Design is an artistic process through which one can gain deeper insight into social urban issues and through relationships with local communities, innovative and lasting impact can be born.

Communication/ Philosophy