Asplund was born in Stockholm. He trained as a painter and then studied architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and became a committed modernist. His early work was modernist but he tended to Nordic classicism. This gave him a profound interest in the symbolic aspects of the Swedish landscape and the commission for Skogskyrkogarden Woodland Crematorium provided an opportunity to develop this interest over many decades.
Gardens designed by Asplund, Erik Gunnar