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



Nathalia Portella

Designer, Rio de Janeiro

Graduated in Industrial Design by Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Work experience in Product and Graphic Design. Interested in what to see, how to do, where to go, what to listen. Curious about illustration, photography and different cultures. Ex-athletic and circus artist, fascinated by body movement. Always looking for new angles.


Lisa Puchner

Text and Radio producer, Vienna

Lisa Puchner studied Comparative Literature and International Development. Her master project in Social Design focused on public toilets. Following the interest in text and sound, she is working within two radio programmes, one dealing with city research, the other with musical exchange with refugees, and writes in magazines and city's newspapers.

Writing, Radio, Photography

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