VERTICAL stone fins and a reflective metal ribbon façade adorn buildings in the city of the very near future.
Artists' impressions showing Sheffield's new 600 million Sevenstone retail quarter have been unveiled to the public for the first time.
And there was a mixed reaction to the plans from Sheffield folk who visited the display.
Curious Sheffielders milled about before the boards that featured artists' impressions of how the heart their city could look in just five years.
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Most gave a cautious welcome to the plans for the new Sevenstone district - previously known as the New Retail Quarter - which contains some radical new architecture.
One of the most striking buildings is set to be built on the site of the present John Lewis store in Barker's Pool.
It has what developers Hammerson describes as a "reflective metal ribbon faade" which will give it an ever-changing appearance and will also feature LED lights that will allow it to glow at night.
Another block running along Pinstone Street/Cambridge Street will have a gothic motif in its brickwork, taking its inspiration from St Mark's Square in Venice.
The new John Lewis store will be wrapped in a series of vertical stone 'fins' or slats that will offer different views of the building from different angles.
And there will be a new tower block built on the site of the present Grosvenor House Hotel.
Richard Power, aged 45, a production planner from Walkley, said: "It is really impressive. I am well chuffed with it. I just wish they could have picked a sensible name. I know Sevenstone it supposed to represent the seven Sheffield hills, but I don't know. I think it sounds a bit daft.
"I think the buildings themselves are nice and modern without looking stupid. I'm looking forward to seeing it finished."
But Doreen Sutcliffe, 64, from Dore, added: "Some of them look like the old Town Hall Extension, The Eggbox. Why put up something that we had up for 30 years and pulled down?
"Until something is built you can't really tell what it is going to look like, but the problem is that once it's up it is too late."
Her husband Ron, 67, said: "Sheffield city centre is too cramped. There is not enough spaces. The developers talk about taking their inspiration from Venice, but in Venice there are many big piazzas.
"But I think that at least they have tried to get a blend of styles, which is good."
Others found the plans "bewildering" because there were no present-day reference points to help them find their way around, while others were saddened to see some of the Victorian buildings on Pinstone Street disappear.
George Arvantitis, an associate at Building Design Partnership, which is overseeing the project with Hammerson, said: "Building a new part of a city is hard, because you are also building a part of history.
"But we have tried to incorporate a mix of uses in a living environment. We didn't want to create a mall. We wanted open spaces that would be accessible."
Developers are aiming to have it all built and ready by 2013. The first planning applications are due to be submitted on March 21, followed by the rest on April 21.
In between Hammerson will try to tweak their designs to take account of the public reaction and ongoing discussions with planning officers at the council.
The public exhibition at the old Damart shop on 106 Pinstone Street continues until Saturday from 10am to 6pm.
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