TIDAL | The Urban Conga

TIDAL, is an interactive public art installation that utilizes key data points from the NOAA to spark an open conversation around the impact of sea-level rise in the area and elsewhere.


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. 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.

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.

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.


Designers: The Urban Conga

Client: City of St. Petersburg

Year: 2021

Location: Shore Acres Recreation Center, St. Petersburg, FL – USA

Project Size: 240 sq ft

Images:  Maria Flanagan

Video:  Michael Flanagan

About Damian Holmes 3297 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/