Starting with the idea I had with making canopies—by hanging thinner branches from above rather than supporting from below—I came up with a way to make a 3D test of that idea. I started by making guard-rail posts around the perimeter of the elevated trunks that people walk on. Working upward, many of the posts would have a rope to anchor the bottom of a branch. On the lower elevated level, the tips of the branches would have a rope tied to another branch which would have holes to hang leaves with messages; the upper level would only have the main branches to hang leaves. The tips of all these branches would be anchored from above with ropes to the next level up.
This way, the branches will sway with the wind with a great deal of flexibility. Further, for any that break, the rope or rigid branch can both be replaced on the Playa. If the branches had been rigidly attached from below, flexing of the branches would be difficult to achieve, and they would be prone to permanent breakage.
For now, I only rendered the first set of branches, omitting the forks on the lower elevated level. I also omitted any anchors, simply placing the branches how I would like them to appear.
I decided to try splitting the second-story branches for better coverage. The idea is to use ropes from the first level branches on upward, tangled to tension, to emulate the finer branches that would hold the leaves.
Just to get an idea of what the canopy might look like, I fiddled around with making 4"x6" (100mm x 150mm) rectangular "leaves"—about the size I could expect from using the slats from palettes. I just applied them in a hemispherical dome. I started with a modest number that could be easily realized—some 1,900 leaves.
I thought I'd go a little crazy and see how dense the shadow would get if I pushed it to 11,000 leaves. I would guess this would be a very optimistic goal to achieve, but not complete out of reach.
I was just out walking around the neighborhood and I realized that trees tend to place their leaves on the outer periphery of the branches. It forms a canopy—which, I guess is why we use the same word for a forest's treetops and a kind of roof.
I think this is what is making my tree models look so weird and sparse. I think I can string ropes to form a kind of quasi-organic geodesic dome that would provide the hooks upon which to attach the leaves. That was another sticking point in the design: how to create nodes where one could hang jeir message. I was pondering making some kind of wooden branches, but they'd be likely to snap in high winds.