TIDAL, is an interactive public art installation that utilizes key data points from the NOAA

The effects of climate change are being felt worldwide, and the Shore Acres community in St. Petersburg, FL, is no exception to this. The Shore Acres neighborhood is already experiencing significant impacts of sea-level rise, and will be at even higher risk of experiencing its effects as time progresses. If we remain on our current trajectory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the area’s sea rise could reach over 9ft by 2100. 


The playful interactions of the work allow for all demographics to converse, listen, and learn from one another.
Photo credit: Maria Flanagan


TIDAL is designed to create a dialogue not only between people but also spark inner reflections of one’s self and how your personal choices can create an impact. Photo credit: Maria Flanagan

This expected rise is nearly five times what the average sea level rise should be within that time frame, putting the neighborhood at risk. The way this information is presented often makes climate change a challenging topic for people to want to hear about or discuss, as it is usually spoken of in ways that make people feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed. This lack of conversation around such an important issue is a problem when trying to educate people about the future impact of climate change and how to become more resilient. TIDAL was designed by The Urban Conga as an engaging art installation, utilizing key data points from NOAA to spark an open dialogue around climate change through play. The design uses play methodologies as critical tools for breaking down barriers and creating an opportunity for reflection and discussion.


The artwork is designed to step off the public art pedestal and utilize its playful design as a tool to spark a resilient conversation around climate change.
Photo credit: Maria Flanagan

TIDAL sits at the entryway to the new Shore Acres Community Recreation Center in St. Petersburg, FL. The space is a communal hub where people in the neighborhood come together regularly to connect and engage with one another. The work was designed as an ever-changing community landmark that responds to the people, the surrounding landscape, and the interactions between them. The design of the form was generated using data from NOAA indicating the projected sea-level rise of nine feet relative to the resilient goal of a two-foot rise in the next seventy-eight years. TIDAL’s design utilizes the NOAA data, along with average tidal patterns of the area, to create a series of flowing pillars that reflect and refract the surrounding context. The pillars act like breaking waves along the main pathway leading people in and out of the building. These pillars are designed to act similar to a pier's columns by becoming indicators of tidal change data and water rise over time. As people walk by each unit, they illuminate from within, revealing perforated data points generated from the average local tidal patterns. The pillars remain briefly illuminated, and then fade away, much like the ocean watermarks left behind on the piers as the tides change over time. This responsive nature of the work showcases how our actions can create an immediate reaction. As people continue to pass by, they begin to see themselves reflected on the work itself, and how the angle at which they view the work begins to change its color. These experiences evoke an internal reflection through the playful interactions of the work. TIDAL uses its playful design to spark conversations with the users, the architecture, the landscape.


Each unit changes colors based on the angle in which the light hits the work and is viewed.
Photo credit: Maria Flanagan


A local community member can be seen playing with their reflections.
Photo credit: Maria Flanagan

TIDAL is made of recyclable polycarbonate and aluminum fabricated locally in St. Petersburg, FL to help mitigate the carbon footprint of the artwork. The work contains low-powered lighting and sits within a permeable planter bed to help with rainwater collection. TIDAL utilizes its playable design to spark an open dialogue to help us on the journey to a more resilient future for our planet.


Signage explaining the work sits at the front end of the planter bed.
Photo credit: Maria Flanagan


The work illuminates from within to temporarily reveal a series of perforated patterns designed off predicted tide change shifts.
Photo credit: Maria Flanagan

About The Urban Conga

The Urban Conga is an international award-winning, multidisciplinary design studio based in Brooklyn, NY, comprising a diverse group of creatives focused on sparking social activity and community interaction through open-ended play. They achieve this by working with communities to create inclusive, engaging, and site-specific opportunities that spark creativity, exploration, and free-choice learning for all demographics within the built environment. Their work explores the idea of a “Playable City” as an ecosystem of multi-scale playable opportunities intertwined within the existing urban infrastructure, without disrupting daily life, but rather adding to it. Their work extends to collaborations with communities, organizations, businesses, municipalities, and institutions worldwide, delivering permanent spatial interventions, public art installations, temporary activations, workshops, development plans, and public policy recommendations.