Sylvian Braat
First Name: Sylvian
Surname: Braat
Position: Research Student

Research title: Sense perception of historic buildings; establishing a core of intrinsic significance.

Start date:  October 2009
My research seeks to develop an approach through which those actual and intrinsic built architectural elements, which define significance in a historic building, can be identified. This significance is vital, as it will form the basis for any prospective development.

The research concentrates on information from historic buildings that people can detect with their senses, and seeks to define what triggers peoples feelings of comfort or discomfort. This relates directly to what people wish to preserve in and of historic buildings. In contrast to assigned significance, this is rather ‘experienced significance’, or a response to a physical reality.

Consequently the research argues that establishing this experienced significance should complement all, contemporary and undeniably relevant, discussion and assignation of other significances. Previously, sense perception has been researched with regard to new buildings and urban environments. However this research focuses on existing buildings. Since arguably a person experiences his environment using all his senses, the research deliberately searches beyond visual perception.

By stressing the importance of sensed experience, the research aims to create wider options for new development. The research explores how the essence of any building lies in its (cumulative) effect on sense perception. It aims to regard intrinsic values as a core for the building, and advocates for this core of intrinsic value to be consolidated through consecutive developments.


  • Prof Richard Laing
  • Dr Jonathan Scott