Initial attempts to understand about what architecture means to people as they go about their everyday life through literature revealed that knowledge such as environmental psychology, environmental perception, environmental aesthetics, did not adequately address, either singularly or collectively, a perceived need for a more contextualized and holistic theoretical framework. This paper seeks to address this situation by responding to the question: How do people make sense of buildings in their everyday context?, and aims to identify the various ways in which people make sense of buildings that are part of their everyday context in order to develop a holistic, contextualized theoretical framework that provides a deeper more integrated understanding of the potential role of architecture in people’s everyday lives. With IPA methodology a small pool of participants is considered desirable given the detailed level of analysis required and its potential to produce a meaningful outcome.

Participants were asked to photograph buildings that they encountered and experienced on a regular basis in the Brisbane CBD and to bring these photographs to the interview. The process is to encourage revelation of emotive and existential sense‐making as well as conceptual and perceptual sense‐making.

In all, the study found that people make sense of buildings described in terms of four super‐ordinate themes; (1) building in urban (text), (2) building in (text), (3) building in human (text), (4) and building in time (text). These emergent super‐ordinate themes constitute a holistic theoretical framework for more fully understanding how people make sense of their everyday architectural experience.