Not many years ago, in northern Russia, on the outskirts of the city of Archangel, by the Dvina River, stood a tall wooden house — a whimsical jumble of planking that grew in all direction but mostly upwards. From a distance it resembled a Japanese pagoda, but up close it was a phantasmagorical structure that looked more like the lair of a wicked fairytale character. The house no longer exists, but at one time, the Sutyagin House was said to be the tallest wooden structure in the world. It soared 13 floors to reach a height of 144 feet.
The house belonged to Russian businessman Nikolai Petrovich Sutyagin who made his fortune in the lumber business, some say through gangsterism. Sutyagin grew up in a two-storey flat and felt lonely all his life. So once he had acquired wealth, he started constructing this house and kept at it for fifteen years.
When Sutyagin began work on his house in 1992, he only intended to build a two-storey structure — larger than those of his neighbors to reflect his position as the city's richest man. But a trip to see the wooden houses in Japan and Norway convinced him that he had not used roof space efficiently enough and decided to keep building.
"First I added three floors but then the house looked ungainly, like a mushroom," explained Sutyagin to the Telegraph in 2007. "So I added another and it still didn't look right so I kept going. What you see today is a happy accident."
Sutyagin even built a five-storey bath house in the garden, complete with rooms where he could entertain his colleagues from his construction company, and their girlfriends. But before he could complete his dream, Sutyagin was arrested on racketeering charges in 1998 and sent to prison for four years.
When he was released, he discovered that his rivals had robbed him blind, destroyed his equipment, and even threw his five cars into the river. And then his neighbors started complaining about the monstrosity of his house while city authorities pointed out to him that no wooden structure should be higher than two floors, and warned him that fire could cause the whole suburb to go up in flames. Finally in 2008, the court ordered the house to be demolished. Over the following year, the house was pulled down.
Photo credit: unknown
Photo credit: unknown
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