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



Oliver Hangl

Artist, Vienna

Oliver Hangl, who originally started his career as actor and scenic designer in 1993, is just as active in performative disciplines and media spaces as in fine arts exhibition sites. His works mark a consistent confrontation between man and environment. Hangl pushes at the boundaries between physical and psychological spaces. With the public space as his stage he playfully embeds a site and context-responsive set of experiences and interactions for both planned and incidental audiences.

Visiting Artist WS19/20
Since 1999 various teaching engagements at Art Universities ---- Since 2008 Director of project space k48 – offensive for contemporary perception in Vienna ---- Since 2010 Artistic director of WIENER BESCHWERDECHOR

Heidrun Holzfeind


Holzfeind’s works address questions of the documentary mode in general, and the social function of architecture in particular. Based on extensive research and realized with poetic flair, her works probe the interrelations between society and identity, between individual histories and the political narratives of the present.

Visiting Artist 2019

Ruth Mateus-Berr

Artist / Design Researcher, Vienna

Ruth Mateus-Berr is an artist and design researcher currently based in Vienna. Her artwork deals with interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary questions. She is interested and experienced in art & design education, Design Research, Design Thinking, Social Design. She is professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, and head of expertise in Design at MA Social Design, member of Design Research Society, and Research directory of Sensory Studies

+43 1 711 33 – 2030

Jennifer Helia DeFelice

Artist, Brno

Jennifer Helia DeFelice is an artist, performer, musician, curator and translator. She graduated from Empire State College, SUNY with a degree in New Media: Employment and Development. From 1993 she has been working as an assistant at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology in the Video-Performance-Multimedia Studio. She currently teaches and is a doctoral candidate at FaVU where her sphere of expertise is in early video and performance art and the interpretation of scores.

Visiting Artist / Summer Term 2017
Media and Performance Art

Isin Önol

Curator, New York/ Vienna

Isin Önol (1977, Turkey) is an independent curator primarily working in Vienna since 2009. Before that, she leaded the Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art as its director and curator in Istanbul for three years. She is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Cultural Studies, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, and has been invited to work as a visiting scholar for a year at Columbia University, New York.

Visiting Curator / Summer Term 2017
Cultural Studies

Barbara Holub

Artist / Architect , Vienna

Barbara Holub is an artist, architect and researcher based in Vienna. With Paul Rajakovics she founded transparadiso, a transdisciplinary practice for socially engaged urbanism: direct urbanism. Visiting artist at the Dept. Social Design (2015/2016), lecturer at the Vienna University of Technology.

Visiting Artist
Summer Term 2014 - Summer Term 2016
Direct Urbanism