In 1995, the Quinta da Fonte Business Park was created in Oeiras, right by the entrance to the A5 motorway.
Today, 25 years after its official launch, the business park – which is one of the most emblematic in Portugal – is investing heavily in the renovation of its outdoor spaces (namely the gardens), the provision of support and convenience services, the creation of leisure areas, and the definition of an environmental agenda. All this with the aim of providing a better quality of life for the approximately 5,000 people who work there. Luís Rocha Antunes, Partner and Director General of Acacia Point Capital Advisors Portugal, the main management entity of Quinta da Fonte Park, explained in an interview what the business park’s main objectives are for the coming years.
What are Quinta da Fonte’s main distinguishing factors compared to other parks?
Quinta da Fonte has three key vectors. First of all, the location: We are near the main entrance to the A5 motorway, which makes Quinta da Fonte the business park with the most convenient location. Secondly, we are only 10 minutes’ drive from the seafront, with its restaurants, universities and urban centres. And, finally, this park has a very unique identity: it is a mixture of the original Quinta da Fonte estate with its ancient history, with modern and versatile buildings. This gives the Park a very unique architectural touch, which allows the people who work here to enjoy the outdoors.
How many companies are established at Quinta da Fonte and what do they specialise in?
Quinta da Fonte has about 83 thousand m2 in offices and services and about 5 thousand people work here. The park is divided into two sectors (East and West) and hosts about 50 national and international companies from very diverse areas such as pharmaceuticals, technology, energy and renewable energy.
What new investments are being made in the park?
We want to provide more comfort to those who are here and to those who visit us. In this respect, we are investing in the renovation of several public spaces and the creation of more spaces for people to enjoy. At the same time, we are creating new leisure and support areas, with larger and more wind-protected terraces and many points where people can work in the garden. Similarly, we are creating a small shopping centre where we will have a pharmacy, a cafeteria and other convenience stores; we have just opened new kiosks, made out of national wood by a Portuguese company, where we have a café with a terrace; a stationery shop (with a post office and Santa Casa games) and a copy shop. With these investments and services we want to give greater comfort and allow people who work here to have access to basic day-to-day services.
In terms of goals for the near future, what are the Park’s main objectives?
We want to be a world-class office park, positioned in the medium-high and high range. We don’t want to be like any other park. We have a good environment to offer businesses. Equally, we want to be an environmentally responsible Quinta da Fonte: We have an ambitious environmental agenda, with a large electric car charger facility, with a stricter recycling policy, with the incorporation of solar and wind energy and better performance of our buildings in terms of carbon footprint.
Our challenge for growth lies in the qualification of the interior and exterior spaces of Quinta da Fonte and in making the people who work here feel that this is an excellent space. We feel that many of the Portuguese multinationals and companies seek to provide quality of life to their employees and this is our focus. In this sense we want to create a greater interaction with the community at Quinta da Fonte, for example with a gardening club and by developing the concept of community gardens.
What advantages do you see in the fact that Quinta da Fonte is based in Oeiras?
When we look at the map of the Metropolitan Area of Lisbon, if we conduct a demographic analysis, we find that Oeiras is at the centre of the metropolitan area. We have (in Oeiras) a good combination of office space, proximity to the sea and access to a series of infrastructures. We have the fabulous Parque dos Poetas, which many people who work in these office complexes have never visited. We have universities and research centres. We have extensive views of the motorway. In addition to these features, we believe that the positioning of the municipality of Oeiras is very close to that which we, at Quinta da Fonte, desire. Everything that is defined in the strategic agenda of the Oeiras Valley has a lot to do with our values and our aspiration to be a better park.
How is the pandemic affecting everyday life at the Park? And what is your opinion on the impact this phenomenon will have on business parks around the world?
A little while ago we launched a survey for the companies established at Quinta da Fonte about whether they intend to return to their offices. The most important thing that has emerged is that companies are putting the safety of people and of their employees first. And, as such, they are acting rationally. On the other hand, in the survey it became clear that it is still too early to define the standards for what we are calling the “new normal”. We can’t draw many conclusions yet. We have heard about several trends: there are companies that say they will need less physical space for their offices [and will focus on teleworking]. Other companies say exactly the opposite and that they will need more space to ensure the safety of their employees by reducing density. We also have companies that have told us they won’t be back until September.
I think we are going to spend a winter here, but I also see the enormous potential that this pandemic could have in changing people’s habits for the better.
Office density and working hours will probably be improved. The big challenge is really this: Until now we had situations with 150 people working too close to each other. There were 150 people arriving at the same time and competing for the same parking space. Now we can have the teams working in a phased, more interactive and more productive way. However, I believe that companies and people will always need a space to interact and socialise. Every crisis poses challenges. This crisis could be the driving force for new and better ways of working.