Taza Water Reservoir at Taza Park Phase 1

Zeidler Architecture


“The starting point for this powerful project is the amazing idea that a water reservoir could symbolize the union between Tsuut’ina culture, the land, and the water. It reinterprets the idea of the security fence as a solar fence—an element of cultural expression inspired by the beaver dam—creating a gateway to Taza Park. The fence feels like it organically grows out of the ground and then wraps around to create a protective cocoon.”­ – Michael Moxam, juror

A curvilinear fence provides a secure enclosure for the water reservoir, while referring to beaver dams and Indigenous teepee structures. The fence’s southern exposure supports a solar panel array.

The Tsuut’ina Nation and the city of Calgary have been neighbours for over a century. Throughout this time, Calgary has grown to the point where it now surrounds the Nation’s eastern boundary. This growth has increasingly strained the Bow and Elbow Rivers’ ability to provide for agriculture, industry, and the everyday household needs of Tsuut’ina citizens. The Taza water reservoir and pumphouse replaces aged infrastructure and provides a consistent source of potable water for the community as it builds out the 500-acre Taza Park—the first of three villages that make up one of North America’s largest First Nation development projects.

Site plan

Instead of the more conventional chain-link fence, the security fence around the buried reservoir takes form as a wooden structure whose posts are a mix of cedar poles from western Canada and repurposed poles from the Tsuut’ina Nation. This curvilinear fence safeguards the reservoir, provides structural support for solar panels, and transforms the project into a bold gateway marker to Taza Park. The space also offers the unique opportunity for a permanent art installation from the Tsuut’ina Nation.

A pumphouse sits within the enclosure, and its water distribution system is visible to the public behind a glazed wall on the building’s north façade. A visual feedback component also helps educate visitors about water conservation at Taza Park.

The design targets net zero building emissions, in keeping with a sustainability goal for all of the Tsuut’ina Nation’s public buildings. Solar panels, mounted on the site’s unshaded southern exposure, supply the majority of the pumphouse building’s electrical requirements. The pumphouse itself is constructed from glulam beams and columns, with tongue-and-groove roof decking.

Sustainability diagram

Responding to the importance of water for the Tsuut’ina—who are known as the “Beaver People”—the arrangement of the wooden solar fence alludes to the shape of a beaver dam. The conical shape of the arrayed wooden fence posts mimics the shape of a teepee. The integration of the solar fence within the landscape speaks to the Tsuut’ina understanding of the interconnectivity between all living beings and the land.

“The land, water, air, animals and plant-life must be protected, restored, and enhanced throughout all the built environments on this territory,” says the Tsuut’ina leadership. “These lifeways have always been at the heart of the Tsuut’ina Nation—respecting all land and all living beings.”

CLIENT Taza Development Corp | DESIGN ARCHITECT TEAM Bill Mitchell, James Brown, Donny Wolcott, Kurtis Nishiyama | STRUCTURAL/MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL/ARCHITECTURE WSP | SITE LIGHTING AES | LANDSCAPE Design Workshop (Taza Park); pLAnt Landscape | ACCESSIBILITY Level Playing Field | SOLAR FENCE FABRICATION Heavy Industries | RENDERINGS Iceberg Visuals | AREA Pumphouse Building—307 m2; Reservoir & Clearwell—1,730 m2 | BUDGET $18 M (reservoir) | CURRENT STAGE Tendered | ANTICIPATED COMPLETION October 2022

ENERGY USE INTENSITY (PROJECTED) 127 kWh/m2/year excluding pump process loads; 240 kWh/m2/year including pump process loads | WATER USE INTENSITY (PROJECTED) 0.092 m3/m2/year