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.

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A holographic statue of rectangle blocks in varying heights sits against a building

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.

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Up-close of the holographic rectangle blocks

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.

A person reading a sign that is titled Tidal

“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.

Various heights of rectangle holographic blocks with people looking at it

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.

Inside a building a holographic light up artwork looks like rectangle blocks in varying heights

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.

Two people leaning over reading something in front of the holographic blocks

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.

A person walking at a slope examining the various rectangle blocks in varying heights

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.

A person holding a reflective, holographic top of the art installation and smiling into their reflection

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.

A window reflecting skyscrapers

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.

+ The Urban Conga

Photography by Maria Flanagan