February 28, 2024 / Milestones
Zeidler Architecture

Currently in the final stages of completion, The Taza Water Reservoir will be a vital piece of infrastructure for Taza Park, one of Taza’s three villages. Designed by Zeidler in conjunction with WSP, it will provide a reliable water source for the community and Grey Eagle Resort & Casino. Fed from Calgary’s underground water network, it also serves as a storage solution for emergency flows as it guarantees a steady and reliable water supply for the area.

Beyond its infrastructural significance, The Taza Water Reservoir incorporates an innovative design developed in collaboration with Tsuut’ina Nation Knowledge Keeper, Hal Eagletail, serving as a symbol of their rich cultural heritage and ongoing dedication to sustainability. The stunning visual and interactive design is a unique approach to building a reservoir, and the result is a powerful gateway feature for Taza that encourages public interest.

Unique Features of the Reservoir

Thoughtful collaboration between project partners and Tsuut’ina Nation Knowledge Keepers, Elders and residents brought the design of this reservoir to life. Some of its distinctive features include:

  • A striking and prominent presence of the reservoir at a primary gateway to Taza Park
  • Structural and material elements inspired by the Tsuut’ina Nation
  • A glass facade offering the public a unique view inside the reservoir
  • A Digital Multiplex (DMX) lighting system creating captivating visual effects at night
  • A visually engaging exterior solar panel fence

Water reservoirs are often buried or hidden away. This project contrastingly showcases the importance of water, it celebrates it, and highlights the connection of water to the land and its people.

"My favorite aspect of the water reservoir is the recognition of water as a valuable asset and resource. Often overlooked, many infrastructure projects remain unseen, but the ability to showcase it with a beautiful exterior and aesthetic is truly unique to this project,” says Martha Tinoco, Development Manager for Taza Development Corp.

“It's crucial for people to realize that drinking water doesn't simply appear in their taps. This reservoir provides the opportunity for individuals to peer inside and educate themselves. This acknowledgment is integral, and we are emphasizing it through the design."

Collaboration with Tsuut’ina Nation

The unique design elements of the Taza Water Reservoir serve to educate and inspire visitors about Tsuut’ina Nation's history and values. At first glance, visitors can see the structure is inspired by a beaver dam, using western red cedar logs arranged around the security fence to create a textural aesthetic.

This is symbolic to the history of the Tsuut'ina Nation, who are known as the "Beaver People." 

The construction of the Taza Water Reservoir security fence draws inspiration from a beaver dam.

As the primary cultural consultant for the design of the fence, Eagletail  shares, “It's been a great honour to be a part of this project. Initially, it was rooted in our connection with the beaver, which holds great significance as our sacred bundle that we carry, representing all Dené people. It was given to us 3,500 years ago, through supernatural powers… It serves as a water protection bundle. Being part of this meaningful design reflects our identity Indigenous and Tsuut'ina Dené people.”

The fence's design as a beaver dam symbolizes the connection between culture, land, and water. The conical shape of the wooden elements also mirrors the form of a teepee, serving as a visual representation of Tsuut’ina cultural identity. James D. Brown, the Architect of Record from Zeidler Architecture for the project, explains how the structure's shape mirrors the sun's trajectory around the site, emphasizing the celebration of the sun's movement.

 "One of our primary objectives was to truly celebrate the movement of the sun around the site. The shape of the structure was a deliberate effort to identify the pathway of the sun and introduce the symbolism of the beaver dam. It's a fusion of these elements that significantly influenced the design."

The Taza Water Reservoir interior pumphouse.

Building Lifetime Sustainability

One of Taza’s goals is to prioritize Low Impact Development (LID) techniques  that protect and maintain natural environments. The Taza Water Reservoir is a reflection of that value, reducing the amount of energy typically consumed in a pump house or infrastructure project of this nature. A major component of the project sustainability are the solar panels on the southern exposure of the fence.

Chris Bardell, Vice President of Construction at Taza Development Corp., highlights the sustainability aspect of the design, explaining, "The solar fence on the southern exposure contributes to the sustainability of the design. Positioned to face south, the solar panels on the fence harness the sun's energy, which is then channeled back into our grid and the pumphouse system."

Additional energy reduction methods of the reservoir include geothermal pump cooling and optimized water pumps. 

The reservoir features a glass facade offering the public a unique view inside the pumphouse

Fostering Education and Inspiration Through Design

The prominent design of the reservoir serves as a striking gateway to Taza Park and a welcoming invitation for visitors to experience the site up close. Connor Hayduk, Director of Creative for Heavy, the design build contractors for the security fence says, "The reservoir is not just a hidden structure, but a unique display that offers a window into its technical operations. Similarly, the fence serves as more than just a security barrier; it is a dynamic screen element that transforms into an iconic feature, performing various functions beyond its traditional purpose."

The pumphouse's transparent design through a glass facade provides an educational view of the water treatment and distribution system. This visual feedback component engages the public about water conservation at Taza Park. 

"The water reservoir is not your standard civil piece of infrastructure typically seen on a site or development. It stands out by creating visibility. Unlike the conventional pump house with 22 man doors and a solid brick facade, it presents a welcoming presence to the community, drawing people towards it," says Bardell. 

Future Impact for Taza, Tsuut’ina Nation and Calgary 

The Taza Water Reservoir will help address the increased water demands due to growth in the Tsuut’ina Nation and Calgary, serving more than 16,000 people with a total capacity of 6,700 cubic meters and an innovative design that can accommodate future growth. It includes specific volumes for fire storage, equalization, and emergency storage. 

In 2020, Zeidler Architecture received the prestigious Canadian Architecture Award of Excellence for the Taza Water Reservoir. The active engagement with Tsuut’ina Nation throughout the design process supported the development of something meaningful that highlights the significance of water to the Nation and the surrounding community. The completion of the reservoir marks a significant milestone for Taza Development, paving the way for the expansion of Taza park and other neighbouring villages. 

Learn about Taza’s connection to the land, and join our online community to receive future updates on Taza Development.

All News