The Story Behind Paris’ Urban Cabbage
If you’re not a Parisian yourself, then there’s a big chance that you had no idea about the city’s own urban cabbage. This mesmerizing piece of futuristic architecture that does leave the impression that it’s part of one of Stanley Kubrick film sets, was actually the brainchild of French architect Gérard Grandval.
After the devastation left behind after WWII, the city planning policy was not primarily focused on design, but rather on the efficiency of constructing as many apartment buildings as possible, so they could accommodate as many people as possible.
And somewhat similar to the countries under the Iron Curtain, neighborhoods began being filled with similar box-shaped structures. Grandval, on the other hand, felt that a more organic design will go much better than the many rectangles springing up everywhere. this is when he drafted his plans for Paris’s Urban Cabbage as a livelier and less monotonous alternative.
Located in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, some 7 miles away from the city center, Créteil (the commune) was a perfect location for the Urban Cabbage.
“The flower is my anti-cube,” said Grandval about the site, “everything looked the same back then. Créteil was my chance to do something different.”
The architect mentioned that he actually drew inspiration form Dahlias when he designed his project. But when the locals saw it, they immediately associated with cabbages and cauliflowers, and the name stuck. But to be fair, the region is known to be a producer of vegetables in France, so, the association is somewhat natural, and funny.
And while it’s true that the Urban Cabbage didn’t exactly work out as it was initially designed – in that the upkeep was somewhat tedious, the apartments did not have enough storage space, and its iconic balconies did not end up sporting abundant plant life – the apartment complex received some praise in more recent years. Back in 2008, the Créteil Cabbages were classified as one of the city’s historic landmarks – standing as a testament to the French idealism of the 1970s.