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



Zuzanna Zajac

Interior Designer, Poland

She graduated from Kingston University, London. Interested in material science, place-making and space design, she interned in architectural companies in London, Malta and Poland, her homeland. Active social participation requires the constant combination of theory and practice, which is her slogan.

Lorenz Zenleser


Klelija Zhivkovikj

Industrial Designer, Vienna/Skopje

Born and raised in Skopje, Macedonia, where she graduated at the Mechanical Engineering Faculty in 2013, obtaining a BSc in Industrial Design. For two years she worked as the financial officer in the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network office in Macedonia. In 2013 she enrolled Social Design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, where she also worked as a research assistant in the project "Visuality and Mathematics".


Anne Zühlke

Art Historian & Curator, Leipzig/Vienna

Anne studied History of Arts, Movie Science and Economics in Jena/Germany and worked as a research assistant. From 2011 she participated in the urban agriculture project Annalinde in Leipzig. In 2013 she established the collective AG Dollz which is focused on curating political contemporary art.