Erik Funneman garden, Amsterdam

How designer Erik Funneman maximised space in a small city garden

Faced with the challenge of creating both privacy and spaces for seating and eating in a tiny city garden, Dutch designer Erik Funneman has used deep Corten steel planters to fill the space with green. Words Jonny Bruce, photographs Sietske de Vries

Nestled among this mix of gentrified buildings of Oostpoort in east Amsterdam is a small modern garden that speaks to the industrial character of the neighbourhood’s recent past. “Unusually, I built this garden myself,” admits designer Erik Funneman, whose busy Utrecht-based design practice means he rarely has time to do the construction. Trained as a landscape architect, Erik has been designing mainly urban gardens across the Netherlands for the past ten years, but this bite-sized project – facilitated by a willing client – allowed him to engage with his love of interior design and its finer details. Read more about how Erik maximised the space in this 30 square metre garden below.

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Erik Funneman garden, Amsterdam
© Sietske de Vries

A shared, large, Corten steel planter marks the boundary between neighbouring gardens, with tall shrubs, including Liquidambar styraciflua, providing privacy for both gardens. The fiery tones of the Liquidambar contrast well with the silver mass of Elaeagnus x submacrophylla, while the feathery flowers of Miscanthus sinensis create a soft texture.

Erik Funneman garden, Amsterdam
© Sietske de Vries

The silvery foliage of Baptisia and Artemisia top the green wall, with Soleirolia soleirolii flowing down to the rill and connected pool. A dense hedge of Fargesia rufa provides privacy and helps to reduce noise from the street below.

Erik Funneman garden, Amsterdam
© Sietske de Vries

The rusted finish of Corten steel clads the main planting area and is repeated in the portable wood burner.

6 key plants from the garden

Erik Funneman garden, Amsterdam
© Sietske de Vries

The narrow entrance to the garden, with tall plants on either side, helps create both an unexpected reveal and the illusion of expanding space – both useful devices in such a small garden. The L-shaped planter offers plenty of space for planting and also helps divide the tiny terrace into separate areas for eating and relaxing.

Erik Funneman garden, Amsterdam
© Sietske de Vries

Stylish butterfly chairs create a comfortable seating area where the owners can enjoy the sound of the water feature. Chosen by Erik, they reflect his interest in the fine details of the design. Behind them the textured green wall expands the planting area and helps bring more life into this small garden.

The garden in brief

What Small city garden.
Where Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Size 30 square metres.
Soil Mineral substrate used in roof gardens.
Climate Temperate marine.
Hardiness zone USDA 9.

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Find out more about Erik Funneman here