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American Society of Landscape Architects


June 2004 Issue

City Symmetries
A walled garden redefines the Midwestern yard.

By Frank Edgerton Martin

City Symmetries
Peter Kerze

How can a city garden use asymmetry to create a sense of perfect balance? In transforming the backyard of a Minneapolis residence, architect and garden de-signer Sarah Nettleton posed this challenge to the owners 10 years after they had fully renovated their compact and elegant house. Like many early-twentieth-century houses in the neighborhood, the old residence is a "four-square" design with a central hall separating living and dining areas. Ten years ago, architect Martha Yunker's renovation created a rich level of detail in beams, flooring, and spatial articulation and balanced enclosure and openness to the outside. The renovation by Y+A Architecture opened the house with a highly functional kitchen, an informal eating area, and a sunroom looking through a panoramic wall of mullioned windows at the center of which is a set of French doors.

"Part of the magic of this house is that it is small and open enough that you can see both Kenwood Park in front and the back garden at the same time," Nettleton says. But the den and open kitchen also became the transition zone to the outdoors—and to neighbors' yards that stood nakedly on display.


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