Excuse Me While I Kiss The Dirt: An elegy for the dream tower

‘And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven…’ (Genesis 11:2)

Sutyagin TowerNikolai Sutyagin’s tower, which I visited in STRANGE TELESCOPES, is no more. The following is a narrative of its annihilation, in words, pictures and video.

The article below (in Russian) dated Dec 26th tells the story of the first failed attempt to destroy it at the end of last year. Apparently a court had ordered its demolition at Sutyagin’s expense in June, but the architect of dreams refused to pay. Undeterred the authorities sent a team to pull it down but this action was postponed due to what Russians call ‘technical malfunctions’ (a cable snapped):

Russian Article

My thanks go to the eagle-eyed reader who sent me the following report from a Russian real estate site dated 19 January. It explains that since this initial failure, the tower has been reduced to its original bottom two floors only, coincidentally the only halfway habitable spaces in the thing. Even these will be demolished in February, leaving empty space where once the world’s only wooden skyscraper stood. The total cost of demolition was 2.5 million rubles. After the city has sold off the remains of the tower, what remains of the bill will be sent to Sutyagin.

Russian Report

Further research has turned up the following video footage. Here is the very moment when the tower was decapitated. Note the clapping and cheering of a philistine:

Next I found a report from Russian TV that was made during the initial phase of the demolition process. Amid general footage of men with saws and hammers ripping it to pieces and interviews with Sutyagin’s neighbours, look out for Sutyagin himself around the 1 minute mark, then at 1:57 the magistrate who ordered its destruction reveals how she discovered (after 16 years) that Sutyagin had no permits, and was guilty of (no, really?) an ‘enormous quantity of fire and safety violations’ etc. At 2:23 Prof Barashkov, who is interviewed in my book, appears to deliver a short soliloquy on its value as a monument to the 1990s, and also on the tower’s significance as a manifestation of the ineffably mysterious Russian soul (in an interview elsewhere on Youtube he cites it as a spectacular example of ‘fantasy architecture’.) And then at 2:47 Sutyagin’s wife appears to express outrage at the destruction of her home. At the end the female newsreader ventures the profound opinion that the tower looks frightening; the male newsreader replies that ‘it is like something out of Tolkien.’

And from more innocent times, here is a broadcast from the English language propaganda channel Russia Today, including an interview with Sutyagin:

And so, Sutyagin’s tower has finally joined that long list of mythical structures, from Babel to the WTC, that were built by men seeking to bridge the gap between earth and sky, and which were duly toppled. Woe to those who seek to storm the heavens- for neither God, nor the magistrates of Arkhangelsk, shall permit it!


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