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



Thomas Matthias Romm

Architect, Vienna

Thomas Romm is a civil engineer and pioneer in resilient architecture. He is a co-founder of BauKarussell - a cooperation network for social urban mining. He teaches ecology for architects at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna at the Institute for Art and Architecture (IKA). Some of his work has recently been published in the “Manual of Recycling” (2019). He also contributed to the social design reader #3 “Circular Change: 42 richtungsweisende Gespräche” (2019).

Resilient architecture and circular economy

Michael Wallraff

Architect, Vienna

Michael Wallraff studied scenery design and architecture in Vienna and Los Angeles. His Viennese office was established in 1999 and is active in various fields: from city planning to exhibitions and objects of everyday culture. Michael was teaching architectural design at different universities, such as the Technical University Vienna and University of Innsbruck. He is currently working on a cohousing project for artists living and working near Vienna's Central Station.