Zurich University of the Arts

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Zurich University of the Arts
founding 1878, 2007
Sponsorship state
place Zurich , Switzerland
Rector Thomas D. Meier
Students 2186 (2019)
Employee 716 FTE (2019)
including professors 113 (2019)
Annual budget CHF 173.618 million (2019)
Networks IBH
Website www.zhdk.ch
ZHdK in the Toni area

The Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK, English Zurich University of the Arts ), with over 2,000 students, the largest art school of Switzerland . It was created in 2007 from the merger of the University of Art and Design (HGKZ) and the University of Music and Theater (HMT) . Since September 2014, the university has been located in the newly occupied Toni-Areal in Zurich-West. The Bachelor's degree in Theater is still based at Gessnerallee 9–13. The ZHdK is one of the four sub-schools of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences .

The ZHdK offers bachelor's and master's degrees as well as advanced training in the fields of art , design , music , education , theater , film , dance and transdisciplinarity . She is also active in research and mainly conducts artistic research and design research.

Affiliated with the ZHdK are the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich , the Theater der Künste, the music club Mehrspur, the KINO TONI and the media and information center MIZ.


It was founded on August 1, 2007 and resulted from the merger of the Zurich University of Art and Design (HGKZ) and the Zurich University of Music and Theater (HMT) . Hans-Peter Schwarz was the founding rector of the new art college. Rector Thomas D. Meier has headed the ZHdK since November 1, 2009 .

The University of Design and Art emerged from the Zurich School of Applied Arts, founded in 1878. Its headquarters were in the building built by Adolf Steger and Karl Egender in 1933 , as was the Museum of Design.

The University of Music and Theater Zurich was created in 1999 from the merger of the Winterthur and Zurich Conservatories, the Zurich Jazz School, the Zurich Acting Academy and the Swiss Vocational Ballet School. Today's theater department (in the performing arts and film department) was founded in 1937 in the vicinity of the Zurich theater under the name Bühnenstudio Zurich. At the beginning of the 1970s, the name was changed to the Zurich Acting Academy.

Due to its creation from the merger of several schools, the ZHdK was divided into over 35 locations throughout the city of Zurich (Exhibition Street, Florhof, Mediacampus, Gessnerallee) and Winterthur. In autumn 2014 a new campus was moved into on the Toni-Areal in Zurich-West . Almost all other locations have been given up, only the Gessnerallee location with the Theater der Künste and the Bellerive Museum (until 2017) will remain in their traditional rooms. The Mehrspur music club is now also located in the Toni area, as are the collections of the Museum für Gestaltung and, for the time being, its temporary exhibition.

Exterior facade of the Zurich University of the Arts

The university campus on the Toni site emerged from the former Toni dairy at this location. The original factory building was converted to the needs of the new users according to plans by the Zurich architects' office EM2N. For the first time, all art movements, design and communication are combined in one location on the Toni-Areal. In addition to seminar rooms, ateliers, studios, workshops, rehearsal stages and practice rooms, the new building also houses several concert and chamber music halls, exhibition rooms and a cinema.

Teaching and Research

The ZHdK offers an excellent teaching and learning environment. Competent lecturers and contemporary courses promote artistic, creative and pedagogical education. Young, talented people gain knowledge and experience through which they can later move professionally and actively in the cultural and creative world. The lessons are highly individualized and the students learn to work independently. Most of the lecturers work in professional practice and incorporate current content directly into their teaching. In addition to the bachelor's and master's degree programs, the ZHdK offers a whole range of pre- and advanced training courses and offers doctoral programs in cooperation with Swiss universities and foreign art universities.

At the ZHdK, research is carried out in the arts, in design and in art education. Research is characterized by its unique scientific and artistic approach to the objects of its investigation. It often takes place in an interdisciplinary way and combines theory and practice, basic and applied research, production and reflection. In this way, research promotes innovations inside and outside the university and makes a significant contribution to the high level and further development of teaching. The aim of the research is to contribute to the discourses of the international research community and to shape them, to promote the development of their disciplines and to be effective with their results for society, culture and economy. The researchers at the ZHdK deal with topics such as the theory of aesthetics; Dimensions of value creation at the interface between culture, economy and technology; the simulation of reality; Design ranging from materials science to development cooperation; Interactions of sounds and colors or the use of digital technologies in the arts.


The ZHdK is divided into five departments:

The Performing Arts and Film Department combines training in the areas of dance, theater and film. Theater education includes the disciplines of acting, directing, theater pedagogy, dramaturgy and stage design as a bachelor's and master's degree. The film course consists of a bachelor's and master's degree. The Bachelor Film offers a basic course or production design. In the Master Film, the practical fields of directing feature film, documentary film, screenplay, camera, film editing and creative producing. In the field of dance, there is vocational training with a focus on classical dance at the Zurich Dance Academy as well as the Bachelor Contemporary Dance and Master Dance. The latter can be studied in the practical field of choreography or teaching and coaching dance professionals.

The range of training courses at the Department of Design includes a broad spectrum of future-oriented topics that are taught at Bachelor and Master’s level. Seven disciplines provide training for the diverse design-oriented professional fields: Cast / Audiovisual Media, Game Design, Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Knowledge Visualization, Trends & Identity and Visual Communication. In the Bachelor Design, subject-specific basics and the necessary skills for entry into professional practice are conveyed. With its research-oriented offer, the Master Design focuses on expanding and deepening individual design expertise.

At the Fine Arts Department, digitality, photography, installation / sculpture, painting / drawing, performance, sound, language and video / moving images are taught and learned. In the bachelor's and master's programs, students try out and deepen their personal access to artistic and theoretical practices, culture and society, and develop their individual authorship in the process. Theoretical and research-based work is encouraged, as is collaborative study and work.

In the department of cultural analysis and communication, the focus of teaching and research is on cultural theory, cultural analysis and cultural communication. Prospective teachers, cultural journalists or exhibition organizers acquire artistic, pedagogical and didactic skills in the bachelor's and master's degree courses to convey content to specific target groups as well as the ability to put what they have learned into practice. The key player is the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich with its internationally important design, graphic, arts and crafts and poster collections. The department works across departments and disciplines by bundling relevant processes in the form of teaching (master's transdisciplinarity), research and events and making them accessible both within the university and to the public.

The training courses at the Department of Music include creation, communication and interpretation in classical, jazz, pop and church music. Orchestra and school musicians, conductors and choir directors, soloists and chamber musicians, composers and sound engineers, instrumental and vocal teachers, jazz and pop musicians are trained in two Bachelor and four Master programs. The students perform in the university's own concert halls as well as regularly in the Zurich Tonhalle and at other public performance venues.

The ZHdK also has its own music label called ZHdK Records . Commercial audio CDs were initially produced under the label, and since 2015 films have also been published on the company's own website and on YouTube. The focus is on the work of the music students at the ZHdK.

Well-known graduates

“La petit mort” director Annie Gisler, here at the Zurich Film Festival 2018, received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the ZHdK in 2013.

The ZHdK and its predecessor institutions (Kunstgewerbeschule / HGKZ, conservatories in Winterthur and Zurich, Zurich Acting Academy) have produced a number of well-known artists, designers, musicians and actresses:

Theater / film



Design / layout / typography


Well-known lecturers

Many former graduates took on and later take on teaching functions. In addition, other well-known personalities teach at the ZHdK.

Performing Arts and Film Department

  • The former German prima ballerina Steffi Scherzer is artistic director of the Zurich Dance Academy, which is part of the ZHdK
  • The documentary filmmaker Sabine Gisiger is a lecturer for documentary film in the field of film.
  • Documentary filmmaker Christian Iseli heads the focus on film knowledge / film experience at the Institute for the Performing Arts and Film (IPF).
  • The film editor Bernhard Lehner works as a lecturer for montage and film theory, he directed the bachelor film from 2009 to 2017.
  • The director Markus Imboden works as a professor for staging and acting, he directed the master’s film from 2012 to 2017.
  • The German dancer Oliver Matz headed the ZHdK dance academy.
  • Margit Eschenbach built up the film / video department at what was then the HGKZ from 1992 onwards. Management, co-management and teaching until 2009. She received the 2003 Film Prize of the City of Zurich for her services.
  • Samuel Wuersten is the artistic director of the Bachelor of Contemporary Dance and Master of Arts in Dance Choreography as well as Master of Arts in Dance Teaching and Coaching Dance Professionals.

Department of Design

  • Gerhard M. Buurman is Professor of Design and founded the Interaction Design and Game Design courses

Department of Cultural Analysis and Education

  • Florian Dombois has headed the transdisciplinary research area since autumn 2011.

Fine Arts Department

  • Maria Eichhorn teaches fine arts.
  • The media artist and composer Andres Bosshard teaches in the Department of Fine Arts.
  • Giaco Schiesser teaches culture and media theory, founded the New Media / Media Arts course (1997), was head of the Fine Arts Department (formerly Art & Media) (2002–2017) and heads the Fine Arts PhD cooperation program between the ZHdK and the University of Art Linz (since 2011)
  • The art historian , journalist and musician Jörg Scheller is professor of art history and lecturer in the Master of Art Education.
  • Marc Bauer teaches visual arts.

Department of Music

List of major lecturers:

Well-known lecturers and leaders from the past

  • Aida Stucki , violinist, taught a professional class at the Winterthur Conservatory; Teacher of Anne-Sophie Mutter
  • Sophie Taeuber-Arp headed the textile class at the School of Applied Arts from 1916 to 1929.
  • Johannes Itten was director of the School of Applied Arts from 1938 to 1943.
  • Hans Finsler was the head of the first photography class at the Kunstgewerbeschule and teacher of René Burri, Ernst Scheidegger and Werner Bischof.
  • Stefi Geyer , Hungarian violinist, was a teacher at the Zurich Conservatory
  • Gerald Bennett was a lecturer and co-founder of the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST)
  • Volkmar Andreae not only directed the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich from 1906 to 1949 , but also the Zurich Conservatory from 1914 to 1939.
  • Hansjörg Mattmüller and Serge Stauffer headed the artistic experimentation class F + F (for "Form and Color") from 1965 to 1970
  • Robert Haussmann had a teaching position for interior architecture and product design from 1972 to 1978.
  • Irwin Gage ran a song interpretation class.
  • Zakhar Bron (violin and chamber music)
  • The artist group Knowbotic Research holds a professorship in the field of media arts.
  • André Gelpke taught photography.


Web links

Commons : Zurich University of the Arts  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. University management. In: www.zhdk.ch. Retrieved May 8, 2019 .
  2. a b c d Annual Report 2019 . ZHdK. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  3. Open depot. In: Website of the Museum für Gestaltung Schaudepot. Retrieved October 21, 2014 .
  4. Many tones in Toni. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung. September 13, 2014, p. 16.
  5. zhdk records - About us. Retrieved March 7, 2018 .
  6. https://www.zhdk.ch/meldung/joerg-scheller-uebernehmen-professorenstelle-kunst-seit-dada-3383
  7. Knowbotic Research - Institute for Visual Media at.zkm.de accessed on August 29, 2020

Coordinates: 47 ° 23 '27.3 "  N , 8 ° 30' 43.4"  E ; CH1903:  681,045  /  249454