A church might seem like the least likely place to find a skate ramp, especially when it still looks like an ordinary structure from the outside. But step through the doors of the church of Santa Barbara in Llanera, Asturias, Spain, and you’ll be dazzled by a psychedelic paint job covering virtually every surface, not to mention a seriously impressive half-pipe.
Okuda San Miguel continues his career of taking street art to new heights with “Kaos Temple,” a remarkable renovation that transformed the chapel into a sanctuary for skateboarders. The original structure, designed by architect Manuel del Busto and built in 1912, was in rough shape, falling apart after many years of neglect.
Collaborating with the Church Brigade skate group and sponsor Red Bull, San Miguel got to work on the rainbow-colored project, painting the walls, vault, and glasswork in his distinctive geometric style. Taking inspiration from pop surrealism and traditional indigenous art, San Miguel often paints animals and faces, saying he likes using a wide variety of bright colors for his portraits to symbolize multiculturalism.
The artist didn’t start with any preconceived ideas when he first started planning the design for this project. Kaos Temple came together almost by intuition. San Miguel simply went inside and allowed his imagination to fill in the blanks, using the architecture itself as a guide. For large specs like this, he typically starts with a latex primer and spray paints over it. He likes using spray paint because it’s a forgiving method, allowing him to quickly correct mistakes — or decide he likes them enough to keep them.
The name of the project comes from San Miguel’s own “Kaos Star,” a large three-dimensional metal sculpture with many points. A crowdfunding campaign helped the project come to life, and it remains one of the artist’s largest and most impressive works. Skaters travel from all over the world to experience this highly unique indoor skate park.
If you ever get a chance to see it in person, it would be highly worth your while to spend as much time as you can just taking in all of the details. You’ll spot many of San Miguel’s favorite motifs, including skulls, owls, monkeys, bulls, dogs, eyes, nude figures, and of course, the multi-pointed star.
The artist describes this abandoned-church-turned-skate-park as “a magical and alluring work” that represents a creative expression of cultural vibrancy to promote new arts spaces. He’s certainly earned the attention of the public, and it would be cool to see more projects in this vein — whether from San Miguel himself or from other artists he has inspired.
“I need to create in order to be happy and to feel good,” he said in a 2016 interview with Fluoro. “Art is the meaning of my life. When I am working on the lift in a big building and see the movement of the cars and people in the streets, I feel freedom and alive. I am out of the mechanic capitalist world, closer to the sky.”