Architectural Aesthetic Appreciation in the Context of the ‘Everyday’, by Thirayu Jumsai na Ayudhya

This paper presents preliminary findings of a study concerned with extending current knowledge of architectural aesthetics. In the study ‘aesthetics’ is considered as an experiential phenomenon rather than exclusively a perceptual phenomenon; the latter tending to reinforce notions of the building as an object with particular formal characteristics, as opposed to the building as something lived with or lived in, in some deeply meaningful, albeit ‘takenfor-granted’ way. Given the preoccupation of most studies with the exterior of buildings, this study also includes the interior of buildings. Specifically, it aims to understand how people appreciate (experience) buildings as they go about their everyday business; approaching buildings; entering buildings; using buildings; and so on. In this sense a person’s relationship with a building is understood to be dynamic and unfolding as opposed to static and constant; the experience to be emotive and existential as well as conceptual and perceptual.

With a focus on lived experience, the study was substantially informed by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), characterised by its reflective focus on subjective accounts of personal experience, its idiographic sensibility, and its commitment to a hermeneutic approach (Finlay 2011, p.140). Supporting the belief that understandings are rooted in the participants’ lifeworld, the study was also influenced by the work of Relph (1976) and Seamon (2010) and modes of ‘insidedness’ and ‘outsideness’.

For the study reported in this paper, 10 people were invited to select up to five buildings that they encountered and experienced on a relatively regular basis in the CBD of a major Australian city. The participants varied in age, culture, gender, duration of residency, and occupation. They could include buildings that evoked negative as well as positive experiences. To facilitate exploring their experiences, participants were asked to document their engagement with the building externally and internally. This included photographic documentation recognising (somewhat paradoxically) its capacity to facilitate phenomenological reflection and as invited through this conference “propel the discourse beyond the limitations of a purely visual understanding of the architectural experiences”.

Finlay, L. (2011), Phenomenology for Therapists: Researching the Lived World, London, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Relph, E. (1976), Place and Placelessness, London, UK: Pion
Seamon, D, (2010), A singular impact: Edward Relph’s Place and Placelessness. Retrieved 1 Oct,2011 from

Thirayu Jumsai na Ayudhya, Queensland University of Technology, AU

Harvard Citation Guide: Jumsai na Ayudhya, T. (2012) Architectural Aesthetic Appreciation in the Context of the ‘Everyday’, International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture, [blog] 06 May 2012, Available at: [Accessed: 01 June 2012].

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s