It’s safe to say that ollies, kickflips and backside 180’s weren’t quite what the designers of the Church of Santa Barbara had in mind when that place of worship was built over a century ago. But since a group of skateboarders and artists got their hands on the church a few years ago, it has found a second life as a public skatepark.
Located in the town of Llanera in Asturias, an autonomous region in the north of Spain, the church was originally designed by a local architect named Manuel del Busto in 1912. Eventually, though, the church was abandoned and left to crumble. That’s when an enterprising skater collective called “The Church Brigade” stepped in, Christopher Jobson writes for Colossal.
With help from online crowdfunding and financial support from Red Bull, the Church of Santa Barbara has transformed into Kaos Temple, a unique skatepark covered in murals by the street artist Okuda San Miguel. Now, a giant halfpipe stands where rows of pews once held worshippers, while the church’s walls and ceilings are covered in geometric blocks of color, skulls and depictions of the night sky.
As the group writes on its crowdfunding campaign:
Artist Okuda San Miguel will fill of color its walls, vaults and glasswork to complete this reinterpretation of the church like a place of gathering artistic and cultural reference in this century.
His iconic artistic piece Kaos Star represents a colorful and isometric rose of the winds that tries to tell us that it does not matter were [sic] you are, or what you are doing, whatmatters [sic] are your own goals. He was totally inspired by the space, and made him think of it as a KAOS Temple.
The Church Brigade isn’t the only group starting to repurpose abandoned or unused spaces in new, creative ways. Over the last few years, people around the world have begun realizing that they have an abundance of open space beneath the miles of elevated roads that crisscross cities and countries. In the last decade, projects like Toronto’s Underpass Park, Portland’s Burnside Skatepark and Seattle's I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park have taken up residence beneath busy freeways and bustling highways, Nate Berg wrote for CityLab.
By giving empty or abandoned spaces new value, communities can transform places from scary and forbidding zones to useful, inviting community hubs – although they’ll have to step up their game if they want to compete with the Kaos Temple.