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Can Environments Nurture Higher Emotional Intelligence?

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

‍Image Credit: © 27707 | Pixabay


What is the role of environments as we progress into the 21st century? Of course, they still provide places for living, working, learning, healing, and playing – but the way in which environments will nurture these activities is changing as we evolve into the future. In particular, the convergence of responsive design with multi-sensory design can bring about a new kind of nurturing, where building occupants learn and grow within environments.

Being more than simply about meeting needs, architectural places will also guide, teach, and inspire in new ways. For example, a hospital can not only help a patient to heal with improved quality more quickly, but the architecture can also help the medical team to fine-tune their emotional intelligence – particularly during high stress situations. What if a hospital could inspire new, more creative compassionate healthcare? In this way, the environment would create personalized space to help the medical team, the patient’s family/visitors, and even the patient, themselves, to nurture their feelings and behaviors toward even more creative compassionate healing.


With multi-sensory design, it is important to study context when orchestrating the stimuli of an environments into a design. For example, a certain sound or color may trigger anxiety in a hospital, while sparking excitement or energy in another setting. By factoring for the context of an occupant’s situation or experience, a design can be better “tuned” to help occupants gain emotional intelligence about their situation and what steps to take next. This will help them to make better decisions that, in turn, help them to reach their short or longer term goals.

As you design your architectural concepts, be sure to think more than about how your building occupants would react. Take your design vision further. When formulating your concept, think of how your building can help your occupant to become smarter – not just intellectually, but emotionally as well. This will help their ability to perform at those optimal levels in a multitude of situations.





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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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