Projekt : Stories of life and work: exploring work ethics and diverse economies in and around Vienna and beyond

PR Project / Semester hours: 6.0 / ECTS 12.0

TISS-Course: 280.506

***This course will be offered by Visiting Professor in Urban Studies 2020 Dr. Kim Trogal (University for the Creative Arts), DI Philipp Krebs, Prof. Dr. Sabine Knierbein, and University Assistant Angelika Gabauer, MA***

Aim of the course

Over the course of the summer semester 2020, students will 

a)    engage in recent debates around the politics of work and how these debates intersect with local public and social institutions. Students will participate in a series of short seminar and lecture inputs embedded in a workshop and project atmosphere, that will explore questions and conditions of work, both paid and un-paid, to better understand public space and the city.

b)    develop empirical research projects to be conducted in and beyond Vienna’s 4th district, that will be carried out in small student groups in partnership with specific local actors. Students will develop their research skills and knowledge in designing and realizing field research projects in urban studies and planning theory, inspired by a feminist ethics of care. The project will experiment with fiction as a medium to represent often neglected or invisible working and labour practices in the city. 

c)     to translate research results by using means both useful for doing participatory research yet also disseminating research results (particularly spatial filming). As a research strategy, the spatial filming will be embedded in working with fiction to develop novel, innovative and outstanding research positions and design speculations.

d)    to transfer results informed by urban theories and empirical field work into formats that can be communicated to the broader public by means of public intervention. This aims to allow students the means to present their research at a public event and engage in a dialogue with both academic and non-academic audiences. This follows the tradition of participatory action research in public space developed at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space over the past years.

Subject of the course

This research project continues the annual topic of the KTH & TU Wien Visiting Professorship Programme 2020 Urban Productivity. New Public Space, Youth Integration and Labour Market Access. While youth unemployment is rising across Europe, many work-related problems are affecting a wide range of demographics, including underemployment, overwork, precarious work, un-paid and underpaid positions. In order to critique and re-image the possibilities of what makes urban spaces ‘productive’, this project follows feminist critiques of labour to question what counts as labour and the ethics of economic practices in and around Karlsgasse. Which kinds of practices could be seen as ‘economic’ when one takes a diverse economy perspective? What kinds of exclusions and marginalisation occur when conventional categorisations of labour are followed? By focussing on different forms of labour, economic practices and ethical relations, we will trace the spatiality of labour relations in and around Karlsgasse, stretching from the institutionalized realms of professional practice towards more peripherical locations in Vienna. Spatial focus of this project is the area around Karlsgasse, where the Institute of Spatial Planning will be re-located. We will examine labour practices of different institutions and social spaces (for example the library of the City of Vienna in Favoritenstraße, the TU Kindergarten, the Chamber of Architects and chartered Engineering Consultants, etc.), their interconnections as well as their (work) relations to the Institute of Spatial Planning.  

Working with a range of partners located in and around Karlsgasse, the research project will begin with Gibson-Graham’s lens of ‘diverse economies’ (2006) and with the Foundational Collective’s approach to “Everyday/Foundational Economies” as a starting point to open up perspectives on the everyday economic practices already taking place in the locality. Our aim is to bring both a critical perspective on how work is understood as well as bringing new ways the possibilities of work and life might be imagined in architecture, planning and urban design, and beyond. Experimenting with different forms of representation, the course will take fiction as a vehicle to represent and explore everyday life in the locality. We will develop ‘Stories of life and work’ to explore fiction as a tool for spatial practice: How could fiction provide space for a multiplicity of voices and experiences of work? How does fiction make different effects and experiences tangible? How can fiction make new understandings and perceptions of work available? And how can fiction open possibilities for action around the future of work? Students can use fiction through employing one common medium (a film camera) and an additional medium of their choice (e.g. through a written short story, a performed theatre, a radio play or a short audio-story amongst others for instance).


The Spatial Planning Master Project P3 “Stories of life and work: exploring work ethics and diverse economies in and around the Karlsgasse” invites an international group of master students from diverse disciplines, cultures and urban contexts to collaborate and jointly learn and explore new group dynamics as a base for more solidary practices of labour. Throughout three intensive teaching weeks (March, 16-20; April, 20-24; June, 15-19) and in-between consultations, students will participate in a series of seminars and lectures embedded in a workshop atmosphere and will independently develop an empirical research project within small student groups. They will present their projects and final results in written, visual and oral form. The format and proceedings will be jointly defined by the end of each teaching week in meetings between respective research groups and the team of supervisors.

Additional information

The courses mainly address master students (and late bachelor or early doctoral students) from planning and architecture. We explicitly welcome students coming from other Viennese universities in disciplines relating to urban studies such as educational studies, migration studies, urban design, geography, (work, urban) sociology, political science, landscape architecture, cultural studies (‘Mitbeleger’ at TU Wien). The course language is English. We support students’ active participation in debates and interactive teaching formats. We encourage students to bring in and develop their own ideas and critical perspectives. We seek to create an international level of debate and exchange and welcome students from all countries and cultures. Just contact us (

Course dates

*** Course Change due to Corona Pandemic (status 14.04.2020): Postponement of ITB1, Information regarding Joint Definition of course dates after ITB during the first intensive teaching week *** 

Kick-Off Meeting: 09.03.20, 10am (Seminar room 3/4, Alte WU)

The main body of teaching will be delivered during three “Intensive Teaching Blocks” (ITBs):

ITB1 Field: Empirical research work in the field
20.04. – 24.04.20

ITB2 Fiction: From analysis to fiction development
27.04. 20
04.05. 20
11.05. 20
18.05. 20
25.05. 20
08.06. 20
09.06. 20

ITB3 Formulation: From fiction to spatial propositions
15.06. – 19.06.20

Further “Intermezzi” (IMs) will be offered by Angelika Gabauer and Philipp Krebs (tbc) between the teaching blocks, whereas individual consultation is also possible with Kim Trogal and Sabine Knierbein (via skype or in person).

Course registration

Please register until via TISS or email to