Housed in an abandoned silk factory just on the bank of Lake Zurich sits the Rote Fabrik, or Red Factory. Opened in the 1980s, the Rote Fabrik has come to represent the heart of experimental theater, film, and music in Zurich. The factory, distinctive for its titular red bricks, was reclaimed by young members of the Social Democratic party in 1977.
The Rote Fabrik was a site of a veritable culture war, as young people rejected the then-mayor of Zurich, Sigi Widmer, who believed that rock music could not be considered real culture and attempted to ban it. After decades of conflict, the Rote Fabrik emerged triumphant and remains a popular destination with both locals and visitors alike.
Since its institutionalization, Rote Fabrik has played host to artists from Nirvana to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, speakers such as Noam Chomsky and Pierre Bourdieu, and innumerable theatrical performances.
With its own artists’ co-op located just a short distance away, Rote Fabrik is a must if you’re in search of cultural events. The music program is varied and diverse, but has three consistent programs running simultaneously: Musikbüro (a mixture of hip hop, reggae, soul, R&B, and pop music), Fabrikjazz (a jazz and improvisational program), and Ziischtimusig, a program dedicated to rock music.
If you’re in the market for experimental theater, Rote Fabrik offers a wide swath of performances and workshops. If you have young children or teenagers, be sure to peruse the “Theater for Kids and Young Adults” section of their program. Book your tickets in advance online, as popular performances have been known to fill up quickly.