The Church of Santa Barbara, constructed in 1912, is located in the northern Spanish town of Llanera. It was once a place of worship for workers at a nearby munitions factory but the church fell into disuse after the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939.
A collective of skateboarding enthusiasts called the Church Brigade sought to restore the church into a place of pilgrimage for skateboard lovers.
They organised a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to reconstruct the church. The campaign page described the project as “a reinterpretation of the church as a meeting place and cultural reference in the 21th century.”
Ernesto Fernández Rey is part of the Church Brigade and told The Guardian it took the group five years to renovate the church.
“The church was pretty much in ruins when we started the project,” he said.
“The walls were stained, paint was peeling and there was dust everywhere.”
Late last year, Madrid street artist Okuda San Miguel was commissioned to paint the church with colourful murals. Pews have now been replaced by a giant half-pipe and the peeling paint overtaken by a kaleidoscope of bright, geometric patterns.
While the paintings have attracted criticism by some people, who regard it as desecrating a sacred space, the renovation has generally been well-received by locals.
According to San Miguel, some of the men who worked on the church in the past see the transformation as bringing new life to the church.
The prospect of an indoor skate park was especially popular with local youths, as the town is known to rain 200 days a year. It can also potentially become a prominent tourist attraction for history buffs and art lovers.
When architect Manuel del Busto designed the original church 100 years ago, he would not have imagined that it would one day be transformed into a skate park. But through the creativity and hard work of those involved in the project, the church will continue to be a place of community for future generations.
Image by CatalogoArquitectura via Twitter