GFRC – “glass fiber reinforced concrete. It is a product that allows us to be almost limitless with what we can create,” says Chris Fenske, founder, co-owner and lead designer of Urban Concrete. “Our imagination is almost limitless and design can exist outside of the box. Our goal is to produce sustainable art, every time.”
An artisan studio with a passion for smart design in a variety of applications, Urban Concrete is changing the way you’ll look at both concrete and a family-run business. Made in a variety of applications, both interior and exterior, the Fenskes thrive on the challenges placed in their creative paths, conscious of their environmental footprint.
GFRC is much lighter than regular concrete, creating an even greater range of design possibilities including large-scale tiles and panels, sinks, fireplace surrounds, mantels and hearths, as well as feature walls and furniture.
“Since Urban has evolved to increase manufacturing, we have been able to make sound decisions to support the goals of our business and family. We have three very active children. Not only do we aspire to grow our business, but we also are committed to live out our dreams and live a lifestyle that leaves us feeling fulfilled,” says Kimberly, wife and co-owner. “Choosing to move to the Valley has allowed us and especially our family, an amazing opportunity. It’s a little crazy, but we are so thankful we took the leap!”
In 2009, Chris and Kimberly merged his construction experience and design expertise with her business development and marketing skills to create Urban Concrete. Two years later, Chris’ dad, Don, joined the company bringing with him many years of customer service and construction experience.
From their studio in Edmonton, the Fenske family grew their concrete construction company to eventually expand their studio and manufacturing to Kelowna. Over the years, Urban Concrete has worked with architects, designers, builders and homeowners across Canada, into the US and from as far away as Europe.
“We are passionate about design,” explains Chris. “We are always experimenting and producing new products. We have evolved with the demand from our clients, creating our current product line. The opportunity however, to construct a custom piece is always a welcomed challenge.”
Chris appreciates the dichotomy of merging live edge wood with GFRC to form eye-catching tables for dining rooms, living rooms or boardrooms. Walnut and pear are two of Chris’ favourite woods. These unique focal points are great conversation starters at any gathering.
Jacqueline Hoshizaki, a residential designer and owner of J. Hoshizaki Designs in Edmonton says, “My team and I have been working with says, “My team and I have been working with Don and Chris at Urban Concrete for the past two years. We are always impressed with their vast knowledge, ability and willingness to cater to their clients. We look forward to working with them on all future projects.”
“The product speaks for itself,” adds Chris. “We’re thrive on pushing the limits and looking towards the bigger picture with the capabilities of GFRC concrete and what can be done with it. I think that’s why so many of our clients keep coming back.” The Fenskes say their best form of marketing thus far has been word of mouth, a bar they continue to hold high.
“It is our goal to provide our clients with the best and most rewarding experience possible from the planning stage to the finishing touches,” says Kimberly.
“Recently we partnered with our friends at EtchBuilt,” says Chris. David Etcheverry, owner of EtchBuilt says, “Working with Urban has been a pleasure. When I was looking for the right material to complement the space, I wanted something clean and innovative, and their panels were the right fit. They turned out great and were easy to install. I would definitely look at using this material again.”
The Panel line is constructed in sizes ranging from 24 by 24 to 48 by 72, and in a variety of colors. They are available in four different finishes. Classic is smooth, polished and sleek, the perfect complement to the clean lines of contemporary design. Mountaineer has a more rustic appearance. Board form is concrete disguised as wood and is excellent for providing the look of wood plank siding without the fuss of staining and weatherproofing. For those who prefer an industrial feel Cable, with its notches, is the ideal choice. The Panel line accommodates both interior and exterior applications.
“No project is out of reach. We love striving to find balance between the challenge and the reward,” says Chris.
Chris, Kimberly and Don are excited about what the future holds for Urban Concrete. “We are new to Kelowna,” says Don, “but already have received a fantastic reception. We invite everyone in the valley to come into our studio. You will be amazed at what all we can create using Concrete.” Their Studio is open Monday through Friday and they look forward to building new relationships with homebuilders, designers and architects who may be interested in learning more about what they do. “We challenge local industry professionals to send fresh designs and ideas our way, so we can help bring those drawings to life,” says Chris.
Moving forward, the Fenskes plan to begin restoration developments, using innovative designs to create spaces featuring their work. “We are a goal driven union of likeminded, committed people who just happen to be family. We strive to be better, to evolve, to stay interesting. And design outside the box. Whether it is small or big steps, moving forward is the momentum we choose. We are beyond excited for the next chapter and can’t wait!” says Kimberly.