n our two-year study on the emotionally intelligent workspace we adopted a key premise: that emotional intelligence was not defined in terms of an individual’s emotional capability, but rather the space between themselves and others. How was emotional intelligence conveyed, transformed and received? Instead of the more familiar idea of intelligence as the ability to acquire knowledge, we considered the inanimate ‘intelligence’ that allows us to make sense of our surroundings.
The study examined the mediating role of the office environment as a leveraging tool capable of enhancing the emotional intelligence of individuals and groups. This approach resonates with the ‘social model’ of disability whereby people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference. Similarly, our unhealthy preoccupation with individual emotional shortcomings often cloud the inhibiting or enhancing effect of the physical work environment. Our study involved extensive analysis of work in neuroscience, psychology, linguistics and evolutionary anthropology. This was followed up by architectural design workshops in Italy, Spain and Australia. The eventual aim was to create a framework that could be used to capture emotional intelligence in workspaces.
Edward Finch is a freelance author and outspoken advocate of emotionally intelligent buildings. He obtained his PhD from the University of Reading (School of Construction Management) in 1989 and was Professor in Facilities Management at Salford University (2008-2011). He acted as editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal Facilities for 15 years.
Guillermo Aranda-Mena is Associate Professor at RMIT University, in Melbourne, Australia and Visiting Professor of Architecture at Politecnico di Milano, Master of Architecture and UNESCO Chair in Mantua. In 2003 he completed his PhD at The University of Reading, United Kingdom and has since collaborated with numerous universities and organisations around the world.