Skala Metro is part of a chain of shopping centres, it was designed by Gyorgy Kovari and built between 1976 to 1984. It was considered to be an exclusive shopping destination during communist times and became an important infrastructure for the wholesale and retail.
Skala chain was established in 1976. Skala Metro sits over an underground station in Budapest and surrounds the Nyugati Square.
The design of Skala Metro was integrated with a complex above an underpass at Nyugati Square, connecting it to the square's metro station, Budapest West Railway Terminal and one of the city's largest shopping malls.
Long after its completion in 1984, Skala Metro was the most modern supermarket of its time in the Hungarian capital. It was built by Sandor Demjan, a legendary entrepreneur of the communist era. Skala became a competitor of the state-owned retail sector as it sold a number of products that was difficult to access elsewhere. Skala distributed products even of those brands that were available mainly beyond the Iron Curtain.
Skala Metro was more expensive than other shopping stores at the time and was a prominent destination for famous people who came to visit Budapest.
The building suffered from a chaotic ownership situation. Above the shopping store, over the 4th floor, offices of the Hungarian Railway Company (MAV) were located. Therefore a unified building concept plan was difficult to realise. However the building could have been easily redesigned.
The biggest change in the story of Skala Metro was after 1996, when many new shopping malls were opened one after another. The decay of Skala Metro started when Westend, another Demjan-owned shopping mall, appeared.
After 2006, when the MAV offices moved out and the utilisation fell back to 51% and incidents of crime became more prevalent in the underpass. Another big change was in 2008 when Akos Balogh, the largest share-holder of the Libri bookstore chain became the single owner of Skala Metro.
In 2008 a bar moved into the premises and later in 2010 a cult club, the West Balkan also moved in. However after the death of three people in a stampede in 2011, the club had to close down indefinitely adding to the building's list of problems.
Currently a chinese-owned low-price department store occupies the first three floor which played a key role in resolving the vacancy of Skala Metro since the low-cost products remained sought after the financial crisis.
Now the owner would like Skala Metro to become a creative hub, not just a big shopping center but also it should take a cultural role. Balogh is planning to locate a bookstore with book reviews and talks, pop-up stores, fitness center etc.