While the abandoned churches of many towns are reborn as pubs, performance spaces or flats, a 100-year-old church in the Spanish city of Llanera – which had fallen into decline – has had a more unique makeover as a colourful mural-clad skate park. The project was instigated a few years ago when local skate collective Church Brigade teamed up with street artist Okuda San Miguel and, with the help of some online fundraising and Red Bull, together created what is now called Kaos Temple. At its heart is a huge halfpipe covering almost the entire ground of the church, but it’s Okuda’s colourful reinvention of the walls and ceiling that have made the biggest impact on the space.
Skaters in the unusual venue are surrounded by the artist’s trademark graphic patterns on the walls and mystical geometric human and animal figures on the ceilings, all in bright primary shades. Alongside stained glass windows, the enlivened internal surfaces of the building almost take on the same feel but with patterns blown up to huge proportions.
The artist, whose work has spanned various cities in Spain, Mexico, Germany and beyond, has referred to the project as his “personal Sistine Chapel,” but you suspect it prompts various responses from external voices including some umbrage-taking towards the church’s new unreligious use. Yet as church attendance continues to decline, the people behind the project are keen to highlight the importance of reimagining architecture to suit modern cultural norms. As per its original purpose, the building is being loved all over again by a passionate sector of society.