Lettera dal mio pollaio / Letter from my henyard

by Sven-Ingvar Andersson
Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche-Antiga

Treviso 2020 (first edition 2007)

40 pages
5 colour illustrations and 4 in black and white (photographs and drawings by Sven-Ingvar Andersson)

in Italian and English

cover price: 5 euros

ISBN 978-88-8435-195-1

(Memorie/Minima, 1)


“There really is nothing to speak of but eggs so far. They won’t begin to cluck for two or three years, and they will probably have to grow for another five to six years before they are finished – with feathers and all. But then it will be a really wonderful sight with all those beautiful birds coming tearing down the hillside with necks outstretched. The henyard isn’t finished either, but so long as the chickens remain in their eggs, it really doesn’t matter that the fence is only a metre high and open. In time it will reach four metres in height and be completely impenetrable to anything other than sparrows and robins who may make their nests there. This does not involve ordinary hens, you understand. They are made of plants – that is, they are about to be made of plants. Of hawthorn, clipped. […] Every man needs a nook, some corner where he can make something that doesn’t have to add up to anything. A possibility for some kind of undertaking that doesn’t have to be evaluated, at least not in connection with professional advancement, livelihood, or status.”

Sven-Ingvar Andersson (1927-2007): one of the most important and influential Scandinavian landscape architects and theorists of the 20th century, Andersson was a member of the jury for the International Carlo Scarpa Prize for Gardens from 2002 to 2005, and an honorary member in 2006 and 2007. Marnas, which is central to this letter from my henyard, is the name of his garden and his summer retreat in southern Sweden. It is a point of reference and a supremely accomplished expression of the interaction between the practical and the poetic in landscape design. Useful sources of further information about Marnas include www.marnasgarden.com, the website created by the landscape designer Anne Whiston Spirn in 2017, and the book by Steen Høyer, Marnas Have, published by Akademisk Arkitektforening, Copenhagen in 2015.

Sven-Ingvar Andersson’s original text of Brev fra min hønsegård was published for the first time in the journal «Arkitekten» in 1967 (no. 26, on pp. 579-582). Later, Anne Whiston Spirn’s English translation appeared in the catalogue of the exhibition Sven-Ingvar Andersson 2002, havekunstens idé. Katalog til udstillingen / Sven-Ingvar Andersson 2002, garden art and beyond, curated by Steen Høyer, Arkitektens Forlag, Copenaghen 2002 (on pp. 66-69 and 105-108). The first Italian translation, edited by Domenico Luciani and Patrizia Boschiero, was published in 2007 on the occasion of the 4th International Landscape Study Days, organized by the Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche Giardini giapponesi. Natura, artificio, luogo in un mondo altro (Japanese gardens. Nature, artifice, place in another world), which was dedicated to  Sven-Ingvar Andersson to mark his eightieth birthday, Treviso, 2nd-3rd February 2007.


Cover illustration: Marnas Have, drawing by Sven-Ingvar Andersson in 1978 (detail).