herzog & de meuron has been selected to construct a major new building for the university of zurich (UZH). the project is the swiss firm’s second in the city, following a children’s hospital unveiled in 2017. as with the ‘kinderspital’, the university building is a publicly significant project, located at the historical heart of zurich. the scheme, known as ‘forum UZH’, consists of three primary components: a ‘topographical plinth’ for teaching; a stand-alone building for research; and a unifying forum that continues outdoors as a garden.

herzog de meuron forum UZH
all images © herzog & de meuron



currently, the university of zurich is spread over various locations and many properties in the city — a layout that the school describes as ‘inefficient’. in response, ‘forum UZH’ — developed by herzog & de meuron in collaboration with b+p baurealisation — will unite the faculties of law, economics, and modern languages. ‘the public competition for the university of zürich was an exciting and inspiring challenge,’ says pierre de meuron. ‘the simple, compact volume of our project harmonizes with the neighboring buildings and gives them room to breathe.’

herzog de meuron forum UZH
a central hall is known as ‘the forum’



the topographical plinth comprises a series of terraces built into the slope around a central hall — known as the forum. here students and the public can congregate with access provided to lecture halls, classrooms, a café, as well as shops, gyms and other sports facilities. the below-ground plinth interacts with the surrounding urban spaces, while the forum extends across five stories from the plinth up into the building and continues outdoors as a garden.

herzog de meuron forum UZH
students and the public are invited to congregate with access provided to lecture halls, classrooms, and a café



finally, the stand-alone building hovers above the plinth and is set back from the street to allow for a central plaza. the faculties of law, economics and modern languages are accommodated in close proximity on the top four floors of the building, where they are arranged around two inner courtyards. meanwhile, the two lower floors accommodate the library which adjoins the forum and is accessed via sweeping, open staircases. the project is expected to complete by 2027.

herzog de meuron forum UZH
the library is accessed via sweeping, open staircases

herzog de meuron forum UZH
set back from the street, the stand-alone building hovers above the plinth

herzog de meuron forum UZH
‘forum UZH’ is expected to complete in 2027



project info:


herzog & de meuron team:
partners: jacques herzog, pierre de meuron, christine binswanger (partner in charge)
project team: simon demeuse (associate, project director), julian oggier (project manager)
vincent bowman, lion haag, erminia mossi, tânia oliveira de jesus, lukas prestele, piercarlo quecchia, daniel tüschen
vasileios kalisperakis (visualisations), günter schwob (workshop)


client: universität zürich (UZH); kanton zürich, baudirektion and bildungsdirektion


landscape design: MDP michel desvigne paysagiste, paris, france
construction management: b+p baurealisation ag, zürich, switzerland
electrical engineering: SYTEK AG, binningen, switzerland
HVAC engineering: stokar+partner AG, basel, switzerland
plumbing engineering: gruner gruneko AG, basel, switzerland
structural engineering: schnetzer puskas ingenieure AG, basel, switzerland
cost consultant: b+p baurealisation ag, zürich , switzerland


building physics: kopitsis bauphysik AG, wohlen, switzerland
sustainability consultant: TRANSSOLAR energietechnik GmbH, stuttgart, germany
traffic consultant: gruner AG, basel, switzerland
vertical transportation: rapp industrieplaner AG, munchenstein, switzerland
fire protection: gruner AG, basel, switzerland


building data:
site area: 140,146 sqf / 13,020 sqm
gross floor area (GFA): 740,557 sqf / 68,800 sqm
footprint: 132,773 sqf / 12,335 sqm
gross volume (GV): 11,583,211 cbf / 328,000 cbm


use / function:
education: 172,223 sqf / 16,000 sqm
research: 150,695 sqf / 14,000 sqm
sport facilities: 41,979 sqf / 3,900 sqm
forum: 27,986 sqf / 2,600 sqm
catering: 21,528 sqf / 2,000 sqm
services: 24,757 sqf / 2,300 sqm
university affine uses: 7,535 sqf / 700 sqm