Volume 11 Issue 2 (2015): Experiential Knowledge, Expertise, and Connoisseurship
Main Articles

Aesthetic Responses Made Visible Through Voices of Experts

Anna Kholina
Aalto University
Published January 16, 2016
  • environmental aesthetics,
  • visual quality,
  • landscape assessment,
  • professional status,
  • aesthetic engagement,
  • expert judgement,
  • observational drawing,
  • reflection-on-action
  • ...More


Professional expertise used to play an important role in the field of environmental aesthetics: expert judgements of landscapes and urban scenes were driving forces behind the decision-making process for urban planners. Today however, research in this area is dominated by studies of public opinion and statistical analysis of anonymous data. This article examines the development of professional expertise in environmental aesthetics and proposes to rethink the role of experts and their contribution to the field by addressing tacit processes behind their judgements. Following an interdisciplinary literature review, an approach that relies on active engagement and reflection-on-action is presented. The application of the approach is studied in two empirical cases, demonstrating the possibility of generating insights into the nature of aesthetic experience. The article suggests reconsidering and widening the profile of the expert in environmental aesthetics to blur the divide between experts and lay public as well as between the users and producers of knowledge.