La Obrera Mataronense (1878-1883)
Gaudí's personal relationships with women were basically limited to those he had with his femaile relatives and with the nuns who took care of niece Rosita Egea when she was already really sick.
What is the reason behind this chastity that Gaudí maintained throughout his entire life?
The majority of Gaudí scholars say that it began with a tragic disappointment he suffered in the 1880s with a girl from Mataró - Pepita Moreu.
It is aid that Gaudí fell in love with Pepita and visited her often. But, when he proposed to her, it turned out that she was already engaged to another and thus refused Gaudí's proposal. This hit Gaudí quite hard, and ever since that time, he dedicated all of his love to his work and to God.
Pepita was a teacher in the school of a textile cooperative in Mataró which was called "La Obrera Mataronense", owned by Salvador Pagés. Pagés, a friend of Gaudí's, put him in charge of a few improvement projects on the the cooperative. Between 1878 and 1883, Gaudí built two workers' houses, an industrial whitening room, a few sanitary services, and the company banner.
The plans for two casinos (public gathering areas) and the gatekeeper's house have been conserved. These were projects which were planned by Gaudí but never realized. We see in these plans, buildings with semi-basements, ground floors, and apartments, carried out in seen brick, and with decorative trimmings in floorboards, doorheads, and cornices. To access the superior apartments of the casinos from the gardens, Gaudí designed a helicodial staircase supprted by pillars and rough arches.
On the walls, Gaudí included legends of brotherhood and kindness, such as, "Do you want to be a man of science? Be kind", "Companion, be solidary, practice kindness", and, "There is nothing more immense than brotherhood". And the banner he designed represented the image of bees, who are big workers, flying between the threads of a loom, with plants and flowers all around. In the banner once could read, "Cooperativa Mataronense", written in precious Gaudinist letters. It was so detailed that the Moreu sisters, the ones who were in charge of embroidering the design, asked Gaudí to make other, less complicated drawings.
But, by far the constructive highlight of this work is the structure of the whitening room, with a dozen parabolic arches realized with three layers of wooden beams as supports with rivets, which leave a wide, open space - ideal for an industry. Parabolic arches are the most logical and mechanically-balanced ones, since the parabola is the resulting form that particles take when uniformly dispersed following the width of an arch. Therefore, the walls have no structural function and are made simply of underlying forms of Catalonian measurements, placed in "panderete" formation.
Today, only a part of this nave is conserved, along with two bathrooms on the exterior of the nave. The arches are cut back on one side due to a widening in the outside road; meanwhile, the bathrooms are pretty deteriorated. The bathrooms have ceramic decorations in the doorhead and inferior part of the ceiling. For ventilation, there is a pipe which opens up through the ceiling like a chimney.
The City Hall of Mataró has added itself to the celebration for the International Year of Gaudí as an associated population and is currently adapting the zone so that it is visitable during 2002. Also, they will study the possibility of organizing and promoting a program of activities which deal with the famous architectural figue.
These elements form part of the municipal patrimony of Mataró and are considered Cultural Possessions of National Interest.