A Journey through Space, Time, and Ideas.


Marnas, the garden laboratory of landscape architect Sven-Ingvar Andersson, is a landmark of design and a masterful interplay between theory and practice. In 1965, SIA laid out the initial garden. Two years later, he published a witty manifesto in which he criticized designers for producing finished works, where every detail is fixed. Instead, he advocated an open framework in which details evolve in response to changing needs and desires. From 1965 until his death in 2007, Andersson documented the evolution of the garden in thousands of photographs. In books and essays, he reflected on what he learned from the process.

Explore the Garden

Note: The self-guided tour does not work well on certain mobile devices.

Meet Sven-Ingvar Andersson

Travel in Time

Back Story

When I first met Sven-Ingvar Andersson and visited Marnas in June 1990, I recognized the kinship between his work and my own. We were exploring similar ideas about design and change, framework and improvisation. Over the next seventeen years, I visited Marnas many times, staying for several days, studying it though my camera’s lens, discussing it with SIA. Marnas plays a central role in my book, The Language of Landscape (1998).

Marnas is now a private garden under new ownership and has seen inevitable change. My goal with this website is to provide an immersive, interactive experience of Marnas in space and time, to enable the visitor to wander through the garden as it existed during its designer’s lifetime and to feel the interplay between garden form, ideas, and the practice of gardening.

Anne Whiston Spirn 2017


Director: Anne Whiston Spirn

Web design: Zhao Ma

Web-interface for self-guided tour: Zhao Ma, Halla Moore

Multimedia: John Moody and Anne Whiston Spirn

Photographs: Sven-Ingvar Andersson, Anne Whiston Spirn

Video from Marnas: Anne Whiston Spirn

Advisors: Beata Engels Andersson, Patsy Baudoin, Jolene de Verges, Christopher Donnelly, Steen Høyer, Lorrie McAllister

Loan and permission: Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Beata Engels Andersson

Scanning and cataloguing: MIT Libraries

Support for multimedia/website: MIT HASS Grant