A couple of active competitions address a similar and pressing issue - reimagining the function and form of trees in our urban areas.
First, via Urbanarbolismo, the árboles urbanos competition, sponsored by asa, provides the following challenge (via translation, so apologies for any misrepresentation): "The Urban Trees Asacción is organized around a design competition for young architects and architecture students seeking proposals to reward low-cost prototypes consisting of artificial trees to learn and understand the logic of the plant and introduce, in addition to functions that already have trees in the city, new programs of environmental awareness and use. ... It therefore asks the contestant to produce designs that artificial trees also should be located in one of two Spanish cities that are the heritage of humanity: Alcalá de Henares, or Santiago de Compostela. It is, at the discretion of the contestant choosing one of them so that the design fits the site and contribute to enhancing the values specific to sustainable forms of urban life in these cities are home, either in the Old Town, in the case Alcala de Henares and subsequent expansion in the case of Santiago de Compostela."
:: image via Urbanarbolismo
Gimme Shelter: Ideas Competition for Urban Shade
The second competition is Imagined for the baking hot City of Phoenix by their Office of Arts and Culture. The competition blog site explains the gist: "Designers are urged to invent new forms for built shade. Beauty, scale, functionality and durability are essential criteria. Designers should consider how southern, western, eastern overhead and low-angle (late day/early morning) exposures require different forms and approaches. Designers should also consider the merits of combining built shade with living shade. Designers should propose materials that minimize the transmission of heat, both from the shelter and from the surrounding ground. Plastics, fiberglass and other materials prone to disintegrate in sunlight should not be considered. The use of sustainable materials is also encouraged. Materials and finishes should be durable, easy to maintain and graffiti resistant. The integration of solar panels in the design is encouraged where appropriate. The City is seeking ideas both for streetscape shade and for open spaces, such as parks."
More info on the submittal
:: Apologies to the Rolling Stones - image via Wikipedia