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Exploring the Invisible Landscape

A new tool developed by the digital innovation team at Arup explores the urban fabric through shared stories and ideas from the community.

Exploring the Invisible Landscape


July 15th, 2011

The Invisible Landscape is a new initiative from Arup revealing the history and future possibilities of a space through public interaction.

Melburnians are invited to walk the city, identifying their favourite trees and green spaces, exploring the landscape and thinking about where they’d like to see change.

An online interactive map and mobile app then allows them to plot their thoughts – upload a photo of their favourite tree, share a story about the city, or suggest where they’d like to see change.


It’s an extension of the traditional process of community consultation, engaging the public in a new format and harnessing the power of social media.

“It’s about valuing what already is there, but also encouraging people to think about what could be there,” says Andrew Maher, Leader of Digital Innovation at Arup.

The project follows a conversation Arup had with the City of Melbourne about the preservation of green spaces in the city.

“A lot of the time people get upset about trees only at the point where the trees are about to be removed,” Maher explains.

“We thought it would be fantastic to have a conversation or allow people to engage and tell stories about things they love.

The City of Melbourne can then tap into this. They’re trying to put value to what they call ’green infrastructure’, but how do they value those things? Can they put a financial value to them? This is more about the social value.”

The Invisible Landscape officially launches on Saturday 16 July and runs throughout the State of Design festival from 20-31 July. The comments, images and stories collected will be available to view via the Invisible Landscape website.

The initiative has much potential for engaging and gathering public opinion.

“If this works really well then we can start to think about how to use these tools more broadly,” says Maher.


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