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)

Nikolai 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):


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.


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


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!