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Research to date has demonstrated the apparent differences how architects, as 'experts' and members of the public as 'non-experts' perceive and understand visual representations. However, the studies that compare architect' responses with other professionals in the field are rare. This paper reports the findings from an Economic and Social science Research Council (ESRC) funded study that investigated peoples' perceptual and cognitive responses to traditional and computer generated forms of architectural representations. The study and analysis provide an insight into factors that are relevant to the communication, shared understanding of design ideas and knowledge exchange amongst the participants in the process. Findings indicate strong resemblance between professionals' and 'lay' peoples' responses. Architects' responses vary depending on the age and length of work experience. The analysis of groups' accounts of how and why they prefer and value the forms they do shows the fracturing of communication and shared understanding amongst participants.