Project: Exploring Intergenerational Practices of Care in Vienna and Beyond: Intersectional Perspectives for Society and Environment

This project explored the complexity of demographic change by using ethnographic filming both as a research method and means of dissemination. We engaged in recent debates around ‘ageing societies’, practices and relations of care, and what these debates mean in the context of urban development and particularly for the disciplines of planning, architecture and urban design. The research is presented as part of the interdisciplinary exhibition Climate Care: Reimagining Shared Planetary Futures in the MAK – Museum for Applied Arts, during the Vienna Biennale for Change 2021 taking place from May 28thto October 3rd2021.

In addition to a research table at the exhibition, the students produced ethnographic movies. Within these, they elaborated intersectional perspectives on ‘Care and the City’ by highlighting the mutual interdependence and relatedness of social and environmental dimensions of care.

Watch the full movies here!


PR Project / Semester hours: 6.0 / ECTS 12.0

TISS-Course: 280.506


***This course will be offered by Visiting Professor in Urban Studies 2021 Dr. Marie Glaser, Prof. Dr. Sabine Knierbein, University Assistant Angelika Gabauer, MA, and External Lecturer DI Philipp Krebs, in collaboration with colleagues and students of the Free University of Bozen (Italy) and of the ETH Zurich (Switzerland). The project results will form part of the MAK exhibition for the Vienna Biennale for Change 2021.***


Aim of the course

After successful completion of the course, students are able to

a) engage in recent debates around ‘aging societies,’ practices and relations of care, and what these debates mean in the context of urban development t and policy and particicularly for the disciplines of planning, architecture and urban design. By adopting an urban studies perspective, we are interested to explore how debates about ageing in the city intersect with different resources and responsibilities of local public administrations, social infrastructures and social institutions. Students will participate in a series of short seminar and lecture inputs embedded in a workshop and project atmosphere. By taking the freshly edited book manuscript about “Care and the City” (Gabauer et. al. 2021, forthcoming) as a means to connect debates about intergenerational aspects of urban development with perspectives and field research on care and the city, the course offers to jointly explore most recent and up-to-date research from urban studies, the social sciences and humanities as well as from planning, urban design and architecture to develop an in-depth understanding of the multiple role(s) of public space and the city for different generations and across them.

b) develop empirical research projects to be conducted mainly in Vienna that will be carried out in small student groups. Students will develop their research skills and knowledge in designing and realizing field research projects in urban ethnography, and remote approaches to auto-ethnography, inspired by theories and approaches of intergenerational planning and care. The projects will seek to explore and document existing formal as well as informal networks, sites, communities and practices of intergenerational care in the city, which are often invisible at first sight. A specific focus will be set to establish an intersectional perspective towards care in urban development and urban policy, by connecting both social aspects of care with environmental concerns about care to address the multiple social and ecological crises current planners and urban designers are confronted with. Our approach to identify spaces of care and uncare with a relevance for intergenerational justice and ageing societies include places in the realms of housing, mobility, public space, open spaces, and also virtual platforms, among others. 

c) translate, disseminate and transfer research results by using means both, useful for doing (participatory) research yet also publishing research results (video clips, mappings, photo ethnography etc.) in digital formats that can be communicated to the broader public in context of the international Vienna Biennale for change 2021 taking place at MAK in Vienna from May 28th to October 3rd and at different other locations in Vienna (AZW). Therefore, the work in each of the Intensive Teaching Blocks (ITBs) will be dedicated to produce presentable visual and audiovisual formats with the support of an expert on ethnographic filming. Here, filming is both a part of the research and field work practice, but also a means of dissemination. The ethics and techniques of doing (auto)ethnographic filming in (pre-, post-)pandemic times shall be intensively discussed in the course.

Subject of the course

As many European countries are facing demographic change leading to population ageing, issues of age-appropriate planning, housing and liveable urban environments are increasingly addressed in new aging and health policies of cities and communities. Dealing with the complexity of demographic change needs taking into account a wide spectrum of capacities, needs and lifestyles among different older adults. However the physical and social environment is relevant for all ages, for older people specifically it is of highest importance: it supports them maintaining the quality of life in their daily life. Inclusive urban neighborhood environments are vital for maintaining social networks, giving and receiving support, experiencing manifold social encounters and intergenerational relations. One of the strategies to mitigate growing social and spatial inequalities in cities and neighborhoods is more and more integrating intergenerational aspects and participatory elements in planning and urban governance.

Drawing on Tronto`s (2013) five aspects of care: caring about, caring for, care giving, care receiving, caring with, on Fitz and Krasny’s (2019) contribution to foster climate care for a broken planet, and on May’s (2013) call for a soulful and unalienated approach to care as mutual presence and altering moment of encounter, the course adds to the perspective of ecological care for the planet the interdependence of it with the fundamental social dimensions of care.

How is agency of young and old in times of (ecological) crisis spatially negotiated and in what formal and /or informal ways do they cooperate? Practices of solidarity, community, reciprocity and responsibility, mutual respect and support as well as conflict of diverging and / or asymmetrical needs produce intergenerational spaces shaped by difference and mutual presence and shared encounter. Needed transformations for climate care will necessarily be based on an intergenerational approach to social change bound to identifying specific socio-spatial needs for different urban generations, and also across them. We thereby seek to enhance care perspectives by those manifold spaces which render‘moments of presence’ (Gegenwartsmomente, May 2014: 33) as those types of social encounters in which affective contact shapes existential forms of meeting others while mutually realizing and respecting others in their human subjectivity beyond existing differences, hierarchies and institutions (see also Valentine 2008).

Doing research on young as well as older generations of urban inhabitants in connection is a blind spot in urban care research (and maybe also in urban praxis). This approach, however, is potentially vital for reproducing and, if necessary, maintaining, repairing and altering communal relations. We look from a relational perspective to the multiplicity of these formal and informal urban spaces in a Viennese context and critically analyse how these geographies of encounter perform as potential resources for a socio-environmentally inclusive city.

Students will be provided the opportunity to present their research results as part of the interdisciplinary exhibition Climate Care: Reimagining Shared Planetary Futures in the MAK – Museum for Applied Arts, during the Vienna Biennale for Change 2021 taking place at MAK in Vienna from May 28th to October 3rd 2021. In a public event where research results will be discussed with the public the students engage in a dialogue with both academic and non-academic audiences. This follows the tradition of participatory action research stretching across realms such as public space, housing, mobility, social infrastructure and digital platforms developed at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space over the past years.


Throughout three intensive teaching weeks and in-between consultations (“Intermezzi”), 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.

Examination modalities

Students’ final grades are based on a group-based project. The assessment consists of three main segments:

  1. An experimental piece of short film and an additional open format (e.g., poster, booklet, photographic visualization, audio piece, mapping, etc.) to explore and communicate research.
  2. Public presentation of the final results to students’ group, teachers and invited guest critics and the wider public in context of the interdisciplinary exhibition “CLIMATE CARE: Reimagining Shared Planetary Futures” and the Vienna Biennale for change 2021.
  3. A short group-based research report that presents and reflects on the research process, used methods and theories.

The completion of all three segments of the assessment is required for a successful completion of the course.

At least 80% of participation in the course is mandatory.

Additional information

The course mainly addresses 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, gerontological sociology, social work, migration studies, urban design, geography, 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

***In accordance with further pandemic developments, teaching will be either offered as presence teaching, as hybrid format or in a distance learning fashion***

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

Kick Off Meeting (Unit 1) + Unit 2: 03.03.2021 9-10.30 & 11-12.30

ITB1 22.03. – 26.03.21

ITB2 03.05. – 07.05.21

ITB3 31.05 – 02.06.21 and 07.06.21

Further “Intermezzi” (IMs) will be offered by the teaching team between the ITBs.

Course registration

Please register until via TISS or email to


Selected chapters of the volume Care and the City (ed. by Angelika Gabauer, Sabine Knierbein, Nir Cohen, Henrik Lebuhn, Kim Trogal, Tihomir Viderman and Tigran Haas, Routledge, 2021, forthcoming):

  • Gabauer, A, Knierbein, S., Cohen, N., Lebuhn, H., Trogal K. and Viderman, T. (2021, forthcoming) Care and the City: New Perspectives in Urban Studies, chapter 1.
  • Madanipour, A. (2021, forthcoming) Critical Reflections on Care, chapter 3.
  • Maddox, S. (2021, forthcoming) Cartographies of Care: Urban Development in Mexico in Response to a Graying America, chapter 5.
  • Bednarczyk, A. (2021, forthcoming) ‘We are here to care’: Gendered urban safety in Argentina, chapter 7.
  • Biglieri, S. (2021, forthcoming) Examining Everyday Outdoor Practices in Suburban Public Space: The Case for an Expanded Definition of Care as an Analytical Framework, chapter 9.
  • Rohde-Abuba, C. (2021, forthcoming) ‘They have a specific culture of respect towards old people’: The constitution and commodification of ethnicity in migrant care work in Germany, chapter 11.
  • Gutierrez Sanchez, I. (2021, forthcoming) Infrastructures from Below: Self-Reproduction and Common Struggle in and Beyond Athens in Crisis, chapter 15
  • Gabauer, A., Glaser, M., Christensen, L., Lehner, J.M., Lundberg, S. and Jing, J. (2021, forthcoming) Geographies of Aging: Hidden Dimensions of care in Stockholm, Vienna, and Zurich, chapter 17.
  • Abbruzzese, T. and Riley, A. (2021, forthcoming) Libraries as Sites of Care and Maintenance in the Smart City, chapter 18.
  • Mos, E. (2021, forthcoming) Digital Care Spaces: The Particularities of a Digital Home Care Platform, chapter 21.

Buffel, T., Philippson, C. and Scharf, T. (2012) Ageing in urban environments: Developing ‘age-friendly’ cities, Critical Social Policy 32(4), pp. 597–617.

Fitz, A., Krasny, E. and Architekturzentrum Wien (2019) Critical Care. Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet. Cambridge: MIT Press.

May, M. (2014) Auf dem Weg zu einem dialektisch-materialistischen Care-Begriff. Widersprüche: Zeitschrift für sozialistische Politik im Bildungs-, Gesundheits- und Sozialbereich, 34(134), 11-51

Tronto, J C and Fisher, B (1990) Toward a feminist theory of caring, in: Circles of Care, eds. Emily K Abel and Margaret K Nelson, Albany NY: SUNY Press.

Tronto, J. C. (2013) Caring Democracy. Markets, Equality, and Justice. New York: New York University Press.