St. Petersburg, Florida is already struggling with the effects of significant rising sea level. TIDAL, created by The Urban Conga, is an art installation that uses play to spark conversations about this important topic related to climate change.
TIDAL art installation was installed in the Florida community of Shore Acres in St. Petersburg. They chose that location because they are already dealing with the effects of rising sea level and is at high risk of experiencing more challenges as time goes on.
If we remain on our current trajectory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that the area’s sea rise could reach over nine feet by 2100. This is nearly five times what the average sea level rise should be worldwide within that time frame. It is enough to cause disastrous and irreversible damage.
“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,” the designers explained.
As a result, TIDAL was designed to be interactive, using key data points from NOAA to spark a dialogue around climate change in the area. The design uses play methodologies as tools for breaking down barriers and fostering discussion.
Furthermore, the TIDAL installation sits at the entryway to the new Shore Acres Community Recreation Center. The work was designed as an ever-changing community landmark that responds to the people, the surrounding landscape and the interactions between them.
Additionally, the design of the form was generated using data from NOAA. It indicates the projected sea-level rise of nine feet relative to the resilient goal of a two-foot rise in the next 78 years. TIDAL’s design also takes the 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 to the building. As people walk by each pillar, they illuminate, revealing perforated data points generated from the local tidal patterns. The pillars then fade away, just like ocean watermarks left behind on piers as the tides change.
As people continue to pass by, they begin to see themselves reflected on the work itself. Similarly, 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,” the designers said. The goal is to present the information in a way that people can visually understand how they interact with climate change can make a huge difference.
Therefore, TIDAL is made of recyclable polycarbonate and aluminum made locally. These help mitigate the carbon footprint of the artwork. The work also contains low-powered lighting and sits within a permeable planter bed to help with rainwater collection.
Photography by Maria Flanagan