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Report - Queensgate Market Hall, Huddersfield - January 2012

Discussion in 'High Stuff' started by tweek, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. tweek

    tweek Huddersfield Tourist Information Board
    Regular User

    Jun 14, 2011
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    Queensgate Market Hall and The Piazza, Huddersfield - January 2012

    Visited with Fudge

    Apologies to all, as yes, this is yet another low-rise rooftop from Huddersfield. However, I will try my very best to make this one as interesting for you as we find it. We came here back in December when all the Christmas lights were on, but had to vow to return after a battery fail on my behalf meant we didn't see all of the adjoining Piazza Shopping Centre. It was icy and cold the first time, the second time it was icy, cold and snowy.

    Queensgate Market Hall

    Constructed between 1968-1970 and designed by the J. Seymour Harris Partnership, The Queensgate Market Hall was opened on April 6th 1970.

    Built with a bespoke roof system of 21 asymmetric curved shells. The design allows for maximum light into the market and is considered to be the best example still standing of a retail market from the 1960s and 1970s.

    The building is hands down the most controversial building in the town. Right from the very beginning the people of the town hated it. It replaced an older, much-loved market hall, and largely because of this, I suspect it has never achieved the recognition it deserves. Much more recently, tensions once again surfaced as while the local council were making plans to demolish it, others were nominating it to be protected.

    In 2004, The Twentieth Century Society published a list of very recent buildings it felt were threatened in some way. Up there along with airports and cinemas, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford and Battersea Power Station... was Huddersfield Market Hall, the only building in Yorkshire to make the list.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Others, were less convinced... like local historian Leslie Kipling,

    ...and this disgruntled market worker,

    However, in 2005 Culture Minister David Lammy listed the building as Grade II, stating, “It is an imaginative structure that combines innovative technology of its time to produce a dramatic space full of natural light with the striking focal point of the roof.”


    Personally, I think it's an absolute marvel, and you can usually find me waxing lyrical about the market similar to this flowery architectural review....

    "The bustle of the market so demands the attention that it is easy to miss its main architectural attraction: the serene, airy 'forest canopy' that floats overhead.

    The main hall is a composition of 'trees' or 'mushrooms'. Each tree has a concrete canopy, or shell, supported by a single central column, which forms the 'trunk' of the tree. The concrete was poured into timber 'moulds' or 'formwork' in situ, and allowed to set, to form the canopies. Each canopy is a kind of twisted rectangle measuring 56 feet long by 31 feet wide. The shape of the shell is defined as an asymmetric rectangular 'hyperbolic paraboloid', or 'hypar' for short. There are 21 trees in all, twenty of which form a four by five grid, or 'forest'. The shell canopies are set at different levels to each other, and vertical strips of glazing cover the gaps between the edges of the shells, effortlessly forming simple, high-level strip windows."


    "The natural light from this glazing spills across the underside of the shells, revealing both the texture left by the formwork, and the spectacular curved, twisted shape of the canopies. The shells, in turn, diffuse the light and eliminate glare. The concrete is of excellent quality, and has weathered very well. Standing in the market hall is like being in a cathedral. It is breathtaking."


    "These amazing structures are completely free-standing. They receive no bracing from each other. Although there appears to be some steel linking some of the corners of the 'treetops' together, a closer look reveals that this is just electrical ducting. I don't think concrete hypar shells have been used in this way anywhere else. They are very likely to be unique.

    What is even more astonishing is the economy of these special shell structures. They cantilever out from their column a staggering nine metres - a normal beam in concrete or steel, cantilevering out as far as this might be expected to be at least a metre deep. These shells are as little as 75 millimetres thick!"

    The huge amount of concrete-pouring to create the distinctive roof went on during a 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.

    The exterior of the building incorporates natural stone with exposed concrete and several art relief panels all individually sculpted by the artist Fritz Steller...


    ...the work 'Articulation In Movement' was said to be the largest ceramic sculpture in the world, being made from 50 tons of Stourbridge fire clay. The rust-brown colouring of the panels came from iron and manganese oxide.



    [​IMG] [​IMG]



    Built in three phases between 1969 and 1972, The Piazza stands on the sight of the old Theatre Royal and was originally known as The Ramsden Centre. In 2009, the Shambles walkway was covered by a pitched glass roof. In 2010, the shopping centre proved how hip and trendy it was by staging a flash mob with 35 dancers to promote the centre. The white tent like structure is a recent addition to the scene...


    Unlike the Market Hall, it is largely unremarkable, except for a few details and the blocky ventilation shafts at it's highest point overlooking the Lawrence Batley Theatre on Cross Church Street.







    :Not Worthy

    #1 tweek, Jan 28, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013

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