Zurich, Switzerland


Zurich, Switzerland

© Herzog & de Meuron
© Herzog & de Meuron
© Herzog & de Meuron

At present, the University of Zurich finds itself scattered across many different sites and locations. In order to rectify this rather inefficient fragmentation, the institution has decided to launch a competition for the construction of “Forum UZH”, which will house together the schools of law, economy, and modern languages. Situated at the heart of the university and hospital neighborhood, this project takes on a significant importance in its impact on public space, becoming part of a series of buildings and major forecourts that regularly dot the city's historical center.

Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the new university building consists of a large plinth for teaching, above which rises a standalone building for research. The two elements are hinged around the common space of the “Forum”: a large unifying atrium situated at the building's center, where the principal traffic flows take place, and which continues into the thickness of the plinth, as well outdoors as a garden.

The standalone building rests on the plinth at a remove from the main street, thereby creating a broad central square of around 4000 square meters. A few stairs join its slightly raised level to the adjacent sidewalk along the street. Its flat surface is dotted with many trees, either planted on slab level, or in the open ground for those emerging from the lower levels of the Forum.

Following the significant slope of the land (with a seven meter difference in height from the north to the south of the site's perimeters), the main street dips as it runs alongside the plinth. A long glass facade reveals the thickness of the central square. The quantities of soil necessary for the optimal development of the square's trees provide for a rich and complex topography underneath. A wide passageway provides a second access to the lower garden of the Forum visible from the street.

The choice of materials, the meticulous care and attention given to the steps and edges of the site, as well as the conspicuous presence of its trees, all fit these new open spaces seamlessly into the formal vocabulary of the historical center. They will help in transforming the large square, along with the Forum itself, a new focal point of university and urban life.

Public spaces, Cultural

Universität Zürich (UZH); Kanton Zürich.

Project Team:

MDP Michel Desvigne Paysagiste
Herzog & de Meuron (lead consultant)
b+p baurealisation
schnetzer puskas ingenieure


Site : 140,146 sqf  (13,020 sqm)
Plaza : 43,000 sqf  (4,000 sqm)