In his youth, between 1873 and 1885, Antoni Gaudí maintained a close personal and professional relationship with Salvador Pagès i Anglada, a textile industrialist whose views were close to Utopian Socialism and who had founded the Cooperativa Obrera Mataronense (Mataró workers’ cooperative) in 1864, first in Gràcia and from 1874 in Mataró. Gaudí collaborated enthusiastically in planning the cooperative’s premises, working with architect Emili Cabañes and engineer Joan Brunet. He was responsible for the general plan of the buildings and personally designed some, including two workmen’ cottages (built between 1878 and 1879), a social club (projected in 1878 but never built), a public lavatory and the textile bleaching factory.
Only the lavatory and factory have survived. The former is a small cylindrical building with a few ceramic motifs. The bleaching factory, built between 1882 and 1885, is a large simply finished space whose main interest lies its construction with Gaudí’s traditional parabolic arches, used here for the first time and created with wooden structures held together with pins.