Opinions are polarised as to the future of the town's Queensgate Market. To some it's an architectural gem, others call for it to be dulldozed. Here arts writer DAVID HAMMOND argues that a re-furbished Queensgate Market could play an important part in a Huddersfield town centre re-vamp
HUDDERSFIELD'S Queensgate Market might not seem a spectacular building to many customers as they wander round the stalls or enjoy a cup of tea in one of the cafes.
But, looking up, instead of looking around, you get a different picture.
There's a roof structure the like of which you have probably never seen before, an impressive steel sculpture on the wall, a huge series of high-level windows.
To architects and others, it is not surprising that this 1970s building, admired by the influential 20th Century society, has now been recommended for listing.
It will be surprising now if Kirklees Council tries to get the market hall demolished to make way for a grandiose shopping scheme.
The likelihood is that the building will stay and be re-furbished, or even re-built in parts. And if that is so, it could play an important role in re-developing the town centre.
Imagine what could be done to give the place a 21st Century appeal ... for instance, what about demolishing some of the Piazza shops in front of the market, and giving it a huge glass entrance way like the Victoria Quarter in Leeds? This is an idea put forward by Adrian Evans, a senior lecturer in architecture at Leeds Metropolitan University.
And here's another idea. The upper floor of the building, not in public use at present, has plenty of space and leads out to a roof terrace above the ring road - a feature hardly noticed by most people.
Originally this floor was meant to house a 200-seat restaurant. Could it, at a future date, be used for that purpose?
Or could it become a Starbucks coffee house, or a cafe-bar? (A town has not "arrived" these days, they say, until it has attracted Starbucks!).
And could the customers there spill out, on a sunny afternoon, on to the roof terrace? With a degree of imagination, much could be done with a building which has aroused praise in many architectural quarters.
One of Queensgate Market's main features is its concrete, umbrella-like roof. This is built in the "hyperbolic paraboloid" style of pioneer architect Felix Candella, who designed the Sports Palace for the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968.
At the recent Meet the Market Makers event, organised by Chris Marsden, leader of the GEM group dedicated to saving the building, guests were told of the blood, sweat and tears which went into the construction.
The huge amount of concrete-pouring to create the distinctive roof went on during the freezing winter in which an ice storm brought down the Emley Moor television mast. Putting the many high windows in place was a great challenge for the Huddersfield glazing firm, Heywood Helliwell.
But the talent and skill which went into the market project did not end with the building itself.
A German sculptor, Fritz Steller, living near Stratford-on-Avon, was commissioned to make a big series of ceramic murals for the outside wall, and used more than 50 tons of clay in their manufacture.
It was Mr Steller, too, who completed a gas-welded steel sculpture to decorate the inside of the building.