Recent developments in analogue and digital simulation techniques have increased possibilities to answer questions in architectural aesthetics through empirical studies. This paper will summarize several recent studies performed at the Institute of Spatial Design at the University of Dresden, present their results and discuss the potentials and limitations of such studies using representations of space. Specifically, we will show (1) the study of eye-movement patterns in 3D versus 2D representations of prototypical architectural interior spaces, (2) the study of influences of properties of facades on the perceived visual unity and beauty of streets, using QTVR based movies (3) the influence of spatial parameters on perceived aesthetic quality of streets, using 2D digital representations and 3D models, and (4)) the impact of spatial and functional parameters on the perceived quality of city squares by means of digital simulation of prototypical urban situations. The results of these studies show that many of the assumptions of common sense knowledge about the influences of design on the perceived visual quality of architectural space could indeed be corroborated, yet a number of common beliefs about the negligibility of contextual parameters in design were shown to be incorrect. The paper will conclude with comparison of the appropriateness of various of experimental methods in architectural research.