Clayton Reservoir

Local Practice Architecture + Design Ltd.


The reservoir, which is nearly complete, has a sculptural presence that visually alludes to lakes and oceans.

The Clayton Reservoir is one component in a series of climate resilience upgrades being made to Metro Vancouver’s water infrastructure. Local reservoirs play an important role in managing the distribution of water, particularly in the face of increasingly warm and dry summers, and a supply dependant on winter rainfall. Rapid population growth in the former agricultural area of Clayton Heights has put additional pressure on water capacity.

Although new reservoirs are a part of the solution, reducing water consumption is also critical. This project set an aspirational goal of citizen engagement, aiming to create stewards for water conservation.

The water reservoir’s massive walls are clad with precast concrete panels, hung from embedded stainless steel brackets.

The design expresses the reservoir’s purpose through undulating curves that reference the water held within. The patterns allude to the mountain creeks from which the water comes, and the ocean to which it ultimately flows. The shadows on the façade shift depending on time of day and weather, which influences the mood of the project in a way that is reminscent of a lake’s ever-changing surface.

The building has already been sparking conversations amongst neighbours, construction workers and visitors about the role water plays in all our lives.

Reducing the apparent scale of this massive piece of infrastructure was also important to residential neighbours and to the City of Surrey’s Parks staff. The design uses a strong horizontal datum to break down the mass. At twilight and on cloudy days, the luminescent white upper half of the project blends with the sky. In contrast, the dark base grounds the project, connecting it to the surrounding landscape. Rounded corners further soften the structure’s appearance.

The reservoir under construction.

Water reservoirs have rigorous health, post-disaster and resiliency requirements, which entail massive structural walls. The design team developed a precast concrete cladding system that hangs from these walls, using an intricate system of embedded stainless steel brackets. Black steel panels allow access to underground chambers and to the reservoir roof. The industrial palette allows the reservoir to be durable, resilient and vandal-resistant.

Clayton Reservoir transforms a standard typology into infrastructure that remains robust and reliable, but also has the potential to inspire.


Jury Comments

Rami Bebawi :: The architects were asked to build a box that can’t ever leak, and they gave it quality. It reminds me of Herzog & de Meuron’s copper-leafed power station: who was going to celebrate that building type? And yet they transformed it into something. The bottom makes me think about 70s brutalism, then there’s the soft poetry that comes out of the reflection.

Joe Lobko :: How we design infrastructure matters, particularly when its physical presence is significant. This project provides a good example of the benefit of architectural thinking in the design of our major infrastructure projects. It’s a skillfully crafted design that responds superbly to its considerable scale and context.

Cindy Wilson :: I don’t imagine the RFP for this infrastructure project listed “poetry” as a requirement, yet in the delicate hands of this team, there is a demonstration that even infrastructure projects are capable of more than functionality.



CLIENT Metro Vancouver | STRUCTURAL/MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL/PROCESS MECHANICAL Associated Engineering | LANDSCAPE space2place | CONTRACTOR Westpro / Pomerleau | BUDGET withheld | STATUS Under Construction | ANTICIPATED COMPLETION December 2019