The "Blue Banana" Revisited
This essay is about the “Blue Banana”. Banana is the name given subsequently by others to a Dorsale européenne (European backbone) identified empirically by Roger Brunet. In a background study to the Communication of the European Commission ‘Europe 2000’, Klaus Kunzmann and Michael Wegener put forward the allegedly radical alternative called the “European Bunch of Grapes”. However, the juxtaposition is questionable, and for two reasons. Firstly, Brunet’s frame of reference was France and his point was that, other than how Kunzmann and Wegener present it, his Dorsale barely straddled French territory. It was thus an indictment of the dominant position of Paris and not a comment on European development. Secondly, and importantly, Brunet portrayed the Dorsale as a polycentric urban network with features similar to those which Kunzmann and Wegener ascribe to their Bunch of Grapes. So the implications of the two concepts for European development are the same: Much like the Bunch of Grapes, the Dorsale celebrates, if not urban networks as such, then the particular network in the Rhineland for forming the basis for its prosperity. If it had been the intention of Brunet to make recommendations applicable at the European scale, arguably he would have done much as Kunzmann and Wegener have: recommend polycentric development.