Symbolic Maresme buildings (I)

Nau Gaudi. Mataró hosts the first Gaudi modernist “cathedral”

The textile cooperative La Obrera Mataronense, in 1878, requested to a newly graduated Antoni Gaudí to build 30 homes, a social building with an auditorium and a factory, in Mataró. The project was only partially executed. Nowadays only the manufacturing warehouse and some toilets are preserved. Nau Gaudí has been declared a National Monument, because is the first one designed by Gaudí and first time that he used parabolic arches.

Interior de la sala de blanqueo

The use of parabolic arches is one of the techniques that gives a greater character to the entire work of Gaudí from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Originally this type of arches were designed by Philibert de l’Orme, but Gaudí used them and made it him an innovative architect. Between 1878 and 1882 Gaudí made a series of preliminary sketches and studies on the operation of cooperatives.

Only a small part was carried out: two houses, one of the director and the doorman house, some toilets and a ship destined to launder cotton. At present, only the last two are preserved.

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The Obrera Mataronense was founded in 1864 by the textile industrialist of Reus, Salvador Pagès, with whom Gaudí maintained a close personal and professional relationship. Pagès was one of the most prominent leaders of the cooperative movement of the late nineteenth century. In 1869 the cooperative was installed in a factory in Gràcia, Barcelona. In 1875 he moved to Mataró (Maresme), where his new factory was already being built. Gaudí’s project included some equipment’s for the workers leisure and their families such as a school, a gym, housing, library.

La nave desmontada para su restauración (foto: Marga Cruz)

The factory building is very simple. The architect designed a ship with 13 slim and consistent parabolic arches created by small sections of wood mounted with bolts. This allowed him to create a wide and diaphanous space of almost 600 square meters without using columns. It is a sample of Gaudí’s creative ability and ingenuity.

In 2002 the building undergo a high abandonment degree and was in very bad condition. The celebration of l’Any Internacional Gaudí to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his birth ,the town hall of Mataró decided to promote the integral factory restoration and the restitution of the parts that had suffered mutilations. The project was entrusted to the local architect Manuel Brullet i Tenas, and was completed in 2008. The restoration was inaugurated on September 26, 2008 and was named Nau Gaudí.

It is currently the provisional headquarters of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Catalunya and hosts the Lluís Bassat collection funds.

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