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



Martin Färber

Experimental Designer, Vienna

Martin Färber is a Vienna-based designer and artist. Seeing design as a non-profit tool for social innovation, his approach is inspired by the concepts of modularity, open source, natural growth, participation and social interaction at the interface between arts and science. His work is ranging from open design systems to interventions in public space, social design projects and critical design works.

Design (Assistant)
+43 (0) 650 935 99 11

Brigitte Felderer

Curator / Cultural Theorist , Vienna

Brigitte Felderer
 works as a curator and cultural theorist. Her projects and texts focus on themes within the field of cultural history, media history and history of science and have been shown respectively published internationally. One of her last projects „The Last Things in Life. An Exhibition about Death and Mourning 1765-2015“ has been shown at Hofburg Innsbruck 2015/16.  

Head of Department
+43 1 711 33 – 2778

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

Barbara Putz-Plecko

Artist, Vienna

Barbara Putz-Plecko is artist and professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna since 1997. As the Vice Rector of the University she is reponsible for research and quality management. Furthermore she is the chair of the Institute for Cultural Sciences and Art Education and head of two departments: the Textile Department and the Department for Art and Communicative Practices.

Fine Arts
+43 1 711 33 – 2700

Monika Farukuoye

Artist / Film Maker, Vienna

Monika Farukuoye is an artist and filmmaker living in Vienna. Her interest circles around the creation and evolution of meaning, structures of the poetic and the artistic process per se. Her films, paintings and literary works question the delimitation of the personal self and its perceptions as well as the integrity and transgression of cultural barriers.

+43 1 711 33 3562

Jochen Becker

Author, lecturer, curator, Berlin

He works as an author, lecturer and curator. He is a founding member of metroZones – Center for Urban Affairs. He has (co)edited several books, e.g. bignes? (2001) or Kabul/Teheran 1979ff (2006), and recently Urban Prayers (2011) as well as Faith his the Place (2012) and Global Prayers (2014). He (co)curated exhibitions such as the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers (2012/13, nGbK Berlin, Camera Austria, Graz) and Self Made Urbanism Rome (2013/14/15, nGbK Berlin, Metropoliz Rome, Maxxi Rome).

Visiting Scholar / Winter Term 2017/18
Urban Affairs