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INVISIBLE CITY “Now i shall tell you the city that smells so good... Your nose shall be your eyes to find this... Invisible City.”

By Alan Lau Te Hong

Once per year in the metropolitan area of Melbourne, the Invisible City created by smell emerges and fills the suburbs. To produce these smells, people built a continuous belt of native flowers that would be harvested between the urbanised areas and green wedges. The selection of native flowers was specially chosen to enhance its individual identity to each of the local government suburbs.



Goodenia Banksia

Billardiera Kangaroo Paw

Acacia Calytrix

Scaevola Orchid

Alyogyne Port Phillip Bay



Urban Built-Up Areas

Green Wedges

Invisible City Masterplan

Flowers bloom at different months and it would take a year for the farmers to complete the harvesting cycle along the entire belt.













Flower Bloom Timetable


Eremorphila Hume, Brinkam 353km long X 62m wide 106,000 Backyards 388L Essential oil Hume



Melton 524km long X 25m wide 39,000 Backyards 143L Essential oil

Acacia Wyndham 384km long X 45m wide 52,000 Backyards 190L Essential oil



Grevillea Whittlesea 602km long X 29m wide 51,600 Backyards 189L Essential oil

Goodenia Whittlesea

Nillumbik 211km long X 32m wide 20,000 Backyards 73L Essential oil Nillumbik



Yarra Ranges


Manningham 107km long X 88m wide 28,000 Backyards 103L Essential oil

Kangaroo Paw Maroondah, Yarra Ranges 336km long X 83m wide 94,200 Backyards 308L Essential oil


Scaevola Knox 285km long X 58m wide 50,000 Backyards 183L Essential oil

Hobsons Bay

Calytrix Hobsons Bay 236km long X 37m wide 26,000 Backyards 95L Essential oil

Alyogyne Greater Geelong 1422km long X 21m wide 86,000 Backyards 315L Essential oil

Greater Geelong


Greater Dandenong






Casey, Cardinia 656km long X 53m wide 104,000 Backyards 382L Essential oil

Melaleuca Kingston, Greater Dandenong 204km long X 130m wide 79,900 Backyards 292L Essential oil

Hibiscus Mornington, Frankston 852km long X 37m wide 94,200 Backyards 345L Essential oil

The continuous flower belt connects the disjointed rural suburbs cut off by highways and rivers.It weaves through all sorts of terrains and brings people across the beautiful landscapes and attractions across Victoria. Its width expands and contract depending on the size of the suburb it passes by. Upon reaching the tip of the Mornington Peninsular, near the gateway of Port Phillip Bay, an ark would ferry people across the waters to Greater Geelong.


Goodenia Nillumbik

Grevillea Whittlesea

Eremorphila Hume, Brinkam

Banksia Melton

Acacia Wyndham

Calytrix Hobsons Bay

Alyogyne Geelong

Hibiscus Mornington

Melaleuca Dandenong, Kingston

Orchid Casey, Cardinia

Scaevola Knox

Kangaroo Paw Marrondah, Yarra Ranges

Billardiera Manningham

The belt never ends as the cycle repeats itself forever like a wheel.

The flowers are harvested and distilled in the smell factories to produce essential oils. This essential oil is then mix with water at the water works to produce floral water which would be channelled to the garden taps in household backyards. When the time comes, taps and sprinklers would release the floral water into the air to produce the smell. In return, grey water from the households would be recycled to help irrigate the flower belts.

Area of flowers required to supply 30min of floral water per year 1 hectare = 7kg of flowers 100,000sqm (10 Hectares)


70kg Flowers


=1Kg Essential Oil


1.1L Essential Oil


110000L floral water


458.3 backyards



1 backyard with 30min of floral water per year

Flower Supplement Index Table

Green Wedges

Flowers 70kg per 10 Hectare

Essential Oil 1.1L Essential Oil to be mix with water @ 1:100000

Flower Belt 10Hectares 400000L for irrigation per day Suburb Oval and Parks Irrigation Automatic sprinkler systems irrigates flower belt daily

Water Works

Water Pond Filtration and Storage Located at 800m intervals(1 Hectare) Filters and store 350,000 L/3.5 days of water required irrigation

Floral Water 110000L for backyards for 30min per year

458.3 Backyards Supplies 26.4% of water needed to irrigate 458.3 Backyards 458.3 Households Based on 2.3person per household

Flower Extraction System Cycle

In Mornington, the yellow Hibiscus attracts local wildlife like parrots, hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. The Hibiscus are well taken care of by the locals as it is constantly being enjoyed by the people. Every year, visitors would flock here and they would parade along the streets together with the locals while they await the Invisible City to emerge.

Invisible City Emerges . Sowing . Pruning



Irrigation . Weeding . Harvesting

A3 Railway

A2 Residential Backyards


A1 Gateway

Built Up Areas


Water Bodies

Paks and Ovals

Forested Areas


Mornington Penisular 1:20000

A4 Creek Crossing

Smell distillation factories and stables are located on gateways next to ovals and parks also provides a place for the farmers and their horses to rest. People get to rent horses to travel and visit other attractions and suburbs connected by the flower belt.


Distillation Factory


A1 Gateway



Distillation factory

Spectators stand


Gateway Section

The extensive yellow Hibiscus belt stretches across the Mornington Peninsular and snakes between the residents and forested areas.

Flower Belt Gateway and Distillation Factory

At times, the flower belt follows through the edge of the suburb houses, extending the residents’ backyard.

Residential Area

Forested Areas

Outdoor Exercise Deck

A2 Residential Backyard and Exercise Area

Residential backyard

Outdoor deck exercise area

Residential Backyard and Exercise Area Section

The Invisible city not only attracts people, but also invites wildlife.

The Invisible City Emerges

As the Mornington railway meets the Hibiscus belt, they merge to embrace the surroundings together.


Mornington Railway


A3 Railway




Railway Section

Farmers prune the plants to help the flowers bloom and are never alone.

Flower Belt Embrace Surroundings

The flower belt tackles all kinds of terrains and bridges across rivers and canals.

Creek Crossing Bridge


A4 Creek Crossing

Planting on bridge


Creek Crossing Section

Infrastructures created by the flower belt also benefit neighbourhoods.

Weaving and Bridging Through Rural Landscapes and Terrains

The Melaleuca belt starts to contract as it comes to meet the Hibiscus belt at the exchange point.

Melaleuca Flower Belt

Exchange Point

Hibiscus Flower Belt

Melaleuca and Hibiscus Exchange and Collection/Rest Point

Rest area

Loading bay

Collection/Rest Point Section

The flower belt is being sacrificed as a firebreak during a bushfire attack. People and wildlife rush to safety across the belt as firemen armed with flamethrowers prepare to light up the plants.

Flower Belt as Firebreak

The flower belt burns away, creating a ring of fire.

The Invisible City (Design Project)  

Design Studio with professor CJ Lim from UCL Bartlett.

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