balbek bureau transforms old church in san francisco into 906 world cultural center

balbek bureau transforms old church in san francisco into 906 world cultural center

ukrainian architectural interior design firm balbek bureau has completed 906 world cultural center, a multi-functional architectural complex in a vibrant area of san francisco, california, comprising a three-level residential building transformed into co-living accommodation, an old church re-equipped as a modern event hall, and a freestanding educational center. the complex has been created as a launchpad for the development of young startups, enabling them to live, work, socialize, develop and communicate with like-minded individuals and groups in a single space. balbek bureau transforms old church in san francisco into 906 world cultural centerall images by slava balbek



balbek bureau began designing the multi-functional architectural complex in 2016, with the task to create a modern educational center in a basement area, with free access from the street; and to re-build the church assembly hall as a multi-functional space, which could be used for different types of events such as lectures, exhibitions, hackathons, and so on. a historic san francisco landmark, the church, our lady of guadalupe church (iglesia de nuestra senora de guadalupe), was originally completed in 1880, and reconstructed in 1912 after it was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. for over 40 years the church was a place of worship for local parishioners, while in the 1950s, due to the mass migration of the residents following the construction of the major transportation link, the church suffered a decline in attendance and was subsequently closed in early 1990. for the last 20 years, the church’s semi-basement was kept partitioned off into working units and used as school premises.balbek bureau transforms old church in san francisco into 906 world cultural center



the kiev-based studio decided to uphold the church’s predetermined basic occupant capacity, working around existing partitions and wall configurations without changing any of them. as such, an adaptable seating arrangement with a capacity of up to 200 has been created in the central hall, while a number of rooms, adjacent to the hall, were designated as auxiliary facilities.


‘our first task was to thoroughly analyze and restore all architectural elements according to the historical reference,’ explains balbek bureau. ‘one of the design requirements was to install most of the elements capable of integration by means of the dry assembly, without disturbing the building envelope. the historical and architectural image of the church was so strong that we decided to use the geometry of modern shapes and elements to emphasize it.’

balbek bureau transforms old church in san francisco into 906 world cultural center



such modern shapes include an 11-meter high screen, which was installed in the altar area of the church, with a stretched fabric area of approximately 80m2. the screen geometry echoes precisely the radius and proportion of the original naves of the building. designed and manufactured according to the specifications of this project, the screen consists of precast aluminum truss segments mounted on cable extensions, while its rear side is equipped with an ultra-short-throw reverse glow projector, completely hidden from the public’s view.



in order to partially conceal religious themes of the stained glass, but still let the daylight into the church, the studio designed a multi-dimensional frame similar to that of the screen, with a translucent material stretched over it. a distinctive feature of this frame is the absence of horizontal braces that prompts an interesting light refraction effect when the light passes through the stained glass, filling the church with colorful rays of light. balbek bureau also chose three artworks by ukrainian artists to complement the project, including: metamorphoses by waone interesni kazki,a mural on the wall in 906 broadway’s backyard that presents a surreal storyline of the interaction between human being and technologies; garden of earthly delights by evgeniy lapchenko, a work that draws from hieronymus bosch’s homonym triptych to reflect on modernity; and san francisco streets by sergiy maidukov, a piece illustrated in the educational hall at 906 broadway as a natural extension of san francisco neighborhood – colorful, vibrant and creative.balbek bureau transforms old church in san francisco into 906 world cultural center




project info:


name: 906 world cultural center

architect: balbek bureau

team: slava balbek, nataliia kurylenko, yevheniia dubrovskaia, valerii stefanov, andrii berezynkyi, anna kruglova, elena kruglova

project manager: olga svitelska

area: 1037,15 sq. m

location: san francisco, USA

artists: metamorphoses by waone interesni kazki, san francisco streets by sergiy maidukov, garden of earthly delights by evgeniy lapchenko

  • Absolutely fantastic, I want to get married here, again,

    I know, I am already married for 48 years. But hey, I deserve more and this is the place.

    Johnb says:
  • November 23 2019, I attended “confessions: a 5-course Sensual Feast-Beauty, Bondage & Transcendence” in this space. What a glorious space! Beautiful, spacious and yet intimate. Among other interesting and lovely features the acoustics are superior. Especially for large groups conversing. No matter how loud the perceived din, I was able to clearly hear the quiet voices of my companions across the table from me.

    jack allen says:
  • Thank you for your kind feedback. It was very important for us at balbek bureau to return this place its glorius times.

    Jenny says:

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