Photovoltaic Trees (PVTrees) are artificial solar structures that look like sculptural trees and exist from small scale (size of a bonsai tree) to large scale (about the size of a wind turbine). The aesthetics of solar trees differ and they have been designed to provide different means of power to different urban and built environments. These range from powering mobile phones, electric cars, buildings and street lights covering small and large scale areas (one or a forest of PVTrees). This study brought together a research team of physicists and designers and to conduct focus groups with design based methods and prototyping (clustering of ideas, sketching and modelling) along with a computational 3D PVTree design tool. The focus groups consisted of capturing a) people's perception on PVTrees, idea generations and development of the 3D model and b) further discussion and evaluation of insights. A public exhibition followed to capture public perception on design concepts using 3D models, and a voting exercise. Overall it was found that PVTrees were received positively by the public with desires for them to be multifunctional by providing power yet also having a secondary function e.g. a shelter or seat. The paper details this, considerations for concept development, and the future direction of research in the area.
Dimitrokali, E., Mackrill, J., Jones, G., Ramachers, Y., & Cain, R. (2015). Moving Away from flat Solar Panels to PVtrees: Exploring Ideas and People's Perceptions. Procedia Engineering, 118, 1208-1216. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proeng.2015.08.466