The story behind La Iglesia de Tas.
How this guy found himself living in a Renaissance church.
“Carlos, it's Tas here. I need you. I just bought a f ☠️☠️☠️ church.”
And that was the message that kicked off this massive architectonic makeover – and that ended up with Tas Careaga living in a Spanish Renaissance church.
Originally built during the second half of the 16th century, the aforementioned church is now a design studio and home for the graphic and interior designer, painter, skater, and photographer (the list actually goes on and on). Located in Sopuerta, northern Spain, the project was co-created with the architect and friend Carlos Garmendia.
Let's rewind to three years ago, when the adventure began. The building was collapsed in its interior, with a worrying structural instability. It didn't even have a roof on. Former Iglesia de Santa Cruz, the place now got a brand new name: La Iglesia de Tas.
The rustic elements balance wisely with the carefully selected design items, resulting in a home with an updated interior design. The iconic Eames Lounge Chair sets the tone for the long-tall living room, adding a perfect leather touch for the mix between now x past that's all over La Iglesia de Tas.
There was no miracle modernizing the place while keeping its history alive. It's been a long time road with very hardwork and lots of investments.
We had a little chat with Tas to uncover a little bit of this story.
1. How did the idea of buying a church come about?
I didn’t plan on buying a church, I was looking for old, interesting buildings or rural houses with land but wanted to buy something special instead of the typical Basque house. I searched the internet for about three years and one day I found an ad that read “Land plot with building in ruins”, with a church pictured. So I called, came over to see it and literally fell in love. I called Carlos Garmendia, an architect friend, and he gave me the go-ahead. So I bought it!
2. It's been three years of hard work put into it. Tell us more about this journey.
I faced many challenges. This is the 3rd house I rebuilt, but the rest of them weren’t in ruins and of course they weren’t a church, so this is the biggest project I’ve ever encountered. Personally, the worst part was the bureaucracy, I had to hire an archeologist and ask for a lot of permits, so that was definitely the worst part. For the rest, I hired a crew to help me with everything, all of them locals from the town. I needed help with the more specialized elements such as electricity and plumbing. They worked great and still stop by sometimes to say hello or do small repairs.
3. We've heard you plan on making it a public space. For real?
The original idea for the house was to create a summer residence and use it for events, touristic rentals, photoshoots and stuff like that, but once I saw its real potential I thought I had to live in it for some time. Much as with my previous house, this one is going to evolve during my stay in it and once it’s finished, I’ll go in for another project and use this one for some weekends and try to rent it for different things. Right now, I’m also planning on doing private events with local chefs and maybe some music gigs, but I don’t know yet when I’ll do it.
4. The interior design is something else. How does the project balance history and present-day?
I recycled almost all the furniture from my previous house, though I had to customize some of them to fit the new space. I have some classic designs, some pieces from my great-great-grandmother and other pieces that I made myself, like a repurposed piano harp table or an old sewing machine/bathroom sink. I didn’t follow any style but just mixed pieces that I love, adding some paintings I did myself along with other artists’ ones. All the photos displayed in the house are also mine, which I shot with an old Hasselblad 500C from the 50's that still works like a clock, even after having travelled all over the world with it.
"There’re no favorite design details, it’s the whole that I really love."
5. Anything special you'd like to add? :)
I never thought this project would receive so much attention, it’s great to see how hard work pays off. I’d also like to thank some people that helped me very much with this crazy project, like Carlos (Garmendia Cordero Arquitectos), Scape, my brother Pablo, Miren, Rober, Escribano, Gon, Alex, Maria, Lejar, Nair, Laiseka, Mariscal, Meana, Alberto, Espe, Ibo, Gorkita, Sota, Borja Dopico and De la Maza – and most especially to Euge, my life partner, for supporting me during the whole process that’s been crazy and absorbed 99% of my time. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone that helped me a lot. If you’re reading this, you know I love you, hahaha. Thank you!
If you slide through Tas' Instagram highlighted stories, you can immerse yourself into this Renaissance+now project.