BY KAYLA ZAWISKI
As the frothy bubbles of an oat milk cappuccino touch my lips, I sit in the sunlight at brch social taking pleasure in knowing how much can be done in under twelve months.
Within the past year, Urbanistyc – an emergent regional developer that envisions, plans and implements exciting new concepts in urban living – took this once underutilized space on a prominent corner of Uptown Waterloo and transformed it into a bright, airy space that is a perfect mix of zen and caffeine. This happened alongside the launch and construction of two condo projects in Stratford: The Bradshaw Lofts and Two Thirty.
I look up to see Catalina, my work partner and the genius behind our designs, strolling over with a perfectly poured cappuccino. When Urbanistyc was founded by Paul Veldman just four seasons ago, neither of us expected we would be sitting here today.
It all started with a question. Why don’t people say hello to their neighbours anymore? Between technology, stress and disconnected spaces, we needed to reimagine the spaces and places we design for. We needed to start designing for ‘Hello’.
Our first project at The Bradshaw Lofts is a purpose-built condominium meant to become a student hotel for UW students attending the Stratford School of Business and Interaction Design, students facing issues with housing supply, and the lack of university like Urbanistyc’s Two Thirty. With modern quartz-wrapped kitchens, integrated European appliances, wide-plank engineered hardwood flooring, recessed lighting, built-in closets and premium windows and doors throughout, this exquisite boutique condo will challenge the notion of ‘standard features and finishes’ throughout the Region.
Cat and I take a moment to watch the traffic ebb and flow on Erb Street and make eye contact with a few of the people peeking in. When we took off the window coverings in brch cafe it was as if everyone wanted to get a look. This design is intentional. It makes the separation between the interior and exterior less pronounced so people can picture themselves being inside and even wandering in without knowing why. This is how we encourage ‘Hello’.
Paul, the company’s visionary, conceptualized Two Thirty in true Urbanistyc fashion. He saw the availability of an underutilized church in the centre of town as an opportunity to take a building that was typically closed off from the rest of the world and transform it into something collaborative and beautiful: a building that will open its main floor to the Stratford community and stand four stories tall as a symbol of what can be done through creative collaboration.
With floor-to-ceiling glass spanning the entirety of the ground floor, Two Thirty welcomes residents and guests into a deliberately-designed, luxury condominium. With the help of EDGE Architects, every square foot of the twenty-one residential suites has been thoughtfully laid out to create a boutique, space-efficient building. And partnership with the church community has resulted in a stunning assembly space that will not only be used for their weekly church service but can also be transformed into a meeting place, performance space, theatre room and more.
Paul struts into brch, a set of rolled blueprints under his arm, and perches on one of the Kroft Studio stools. Cat and I prepare ourselves for another strategic discussion. We know that when Paul comes in with that look in his eye, he’s had a revelation in the middle of the night. Yet instead of being frustrated with the potential pivot or a tight deadline we’ll need to meet, we all band together in the knowledge that we are pushing the boundaries and striving for perfection.
Urbanistyc thrives on the realization that we can encourage change, collaboration and community through well-considered developments. With every project we push beyond convention. We may have started just a year ago but we will continue to break down walls with the hope that people will also lower theirs. So when you see us out and about in Waterloo, make sure you say hello.
1 King St N, Waterloo