Social Design - Summer School 2021

Social Design Studio


Social Design - Summer School 2021


Hearing The Grass Grow

Immaterial Resources in Urban Planning


The topic of the Social Design Summer School 2021 is equally relevant as exemplary. During the last year city dwellers in particular yearned for being outside, for free expanses to move and be moved. The perception of open spaces in dense urban areas thoroughly changed without the option of consuming. Urban qualities are not only evolving around possibilities to eat, drink and shop but furthermore around literally immaterial qualities which are transmitted by other people – adults and children –, by plants, by animals, by sensual experiences, by narratives, by routines and rituals, by anchor points, by history and, of course, a prospect of an imaginable future. Urban structures are always multilayered, one layer might make an older one invisible, might even erase it, but such layers, opening up as and to “lieux infinis” (Encore Heureux) are adding to an atmosphere, to social density and cohesion, are communicating notions of in- as well as ex-clusion, of potentials and of unplanned possibilities of (urban) development.

This year’s Social Design Summer School is taking place in Rothneusiedl, a municipality of approximately 700 inhabitants and also part of Vienna’s 10th district. Though the area is located at the southern outskirts of Vienna it has been populated since thousands of years, being a location for early agricultural and livestock farming, we know of viniculture by former soldiers of Roman legions, the “Migration of the Peoples” left their traces, as did the Magyars, Ottomans, periods of war and peace, plagues and natural catastrophes. With the foundation of brickworks at the end of the 18th century the population grew at a fast pace. Around 1795 about 104 people lived there, and hundred years later the local population had grown to 2000. The bricks produced served to build all the representative monuments in Vienna’s city center. The workers’ living conditions were extremely poor and life threatening. Mid last century the brick production closed down and the area has been partly urbanized and was also recovered in greenery. Big parts of Rothneusiedl look back on a long history of agricultural land but are now zoned for urbanization. In 25 years, fields of Rothneusiedl will be the ground for a new densely built part of Vienna, providing housing for a fast growing city.

The Summer School will be based at the Haschahof aka Zukunftshof, a historical grange with original buildings from the 19th century. This complex will also serve as a future center for the upcoming development in the sense that first a local urban center will be established and then the housing will follow (not before 2050). So far, the grange is still surrounded by fields and meadows, but their destiny is determined. Agricultural land is zoned for building new parts of Vienna.

The topic of the Summer School is focusing on the resources of the place, natural, historical and cultural resources, visible but not necessarily material.

The main research questions for a great program of 10 days will be:

• What are the immaterial resources of the place? What will they be? (exploration, identification, protection, development)
• How to get a hold of immaterial resources?
• Is there a genius loci?
• How to create urban qualities and to avoid the risks of a suburban “Alltagsleere” (void of the everyday)?
• How to involve (future) inhabitants, dwellers, settlers, neighbors?
• How to activate activism in terms of interest, of wish production?
• How could agricultural green be partly transformed into urban green?
• How to develop a local center?
• How to plan “dysfunctional spaces” (Lucius Burckhardt)?
• Which artistic strategies could be applied? How?

Especially for the Summer School, a camping site will be installed at Zukunftshof, participants can reach the center of Vienna with public transport and still sleep under the open sky (and with all necessary safety precautions).

Guests from:

• The University of Applied Arts (Social Design Studio)
• Kunsthalle Exnergasse
• The University of Life Sciences Vienna (Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management)
• The University of Economics (Institute for Multi-Level-Governance and Development)
• HafenCity University Hamburg
• as well as artists, architects, activists, urbanists, local snail farmers will join

The program includes walks along fields and creeks, explorations and encounters with human and non-human neighbors, excursions to close and far-away old or new city quarters, utopian renderings for future uses and many more exciting actions. On the last day we will follow the Viennese water lines and cross all borders for a day trip to Bratislava. 




The Summer School is intended for master students and young practitioners of various disciplines ranging from the arts, design, theory to architecture/urbanism or closely related fields who would like to explore Social Design and share skills and knowledge from previous projects. Applicants should have experience in artistic/urban projects. The course is open to about 10 international students.

Applicants are asked to submit a motivation letter including a short description of a project idea to build upon during the summer school (max. 1 page) and a short CV (max. 1 page). Please send your application in one document (.pdf) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. until 18 June 2021.

Students will receive a certificate with 8 ECTS credits from the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

The Summer School fee is EUR 300 €, including a social welcome dinner. Students are expected to pay for their own travel. There will be accommodation for tents and sleeping bags.

Do not hesitate to get back to us for any further questions. Stefan will answer your questions: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please, register with Stefan to get the regular updates about the program.

17- 24 July 2021
Social Design Studio