The Sutyagin House, once the residence of a Russian crime lord, was claimed to be the world’s tallest wooden building

David Goran
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The Sutyagin House was a wooden house in Arkhangelsk, Russia, constructed by the local crime lord Nikolai Petrovich Sutyagin. The house no longer exists, but at one time, the 13-story, 44-metre-tall (144 ft) Sutyagin House was said to be the tallest wooden house in Russia or even the world.

The construction of Russia’s tallest wooden house began in 1992. Wikipedia Public Domain - Wikipedia Public Domain

The construction of Russia’s tallest wooden house began in 1992. 1-Wikipedia/Public Domain 2-Wikipedia/Public Domain

 

Solombala pulp and paper mill and Sutyagin House (left). Wikipedia Public Domain

Solombala pulp and paper mill and Sutyagin House (left). Wikipedia/Public Domain

Starting in 1992, Mr. Sutyagin and his family constructed the house over 15 years without formal plans or a building permit. Sutyagin only intended to build a two-storey structure — larger than those of his neighbors to reflect his position as the city’s richest man. He was inspired by the vernacular architecture and wooden houses of Japan and Norway to keep going. 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.

The wooden houses in Japan and Norway convinced him to keep building. By Sasha Krotov CC BY 3.0

The wooden houses in Japan and Norway convinced him to keep building. By Sasha Krotov/CC-BY 3.0

 

Constructed by Sutyagin and his family over 15 years. Wikipedia Public Domain 3

Constructed by Sutyagin and his family over 15 years. Wikipedia/Public Domain

However, Sutyagin was arrested on racketeering charges in 1998 and sent to prison for four years. When he was released, he had problems with the Fire Department, while city authorities pointed out to him that no wooden structure should be higher than two floors. In this regard, in 2008, it was condemned by the city as a fire hazard, and the courts ordered it to be fully demolished by February 1, 2009. Most of the town is built of wood, and the concern was that it would catch on fire, fall over, and then cause the entire town to burn.

Claimed to be the world's tallest wooden single-family house. By Aleks Menshikov Panoramio CC BY-ND 3.0

Claimed to be the world’s tallest wooden single-family house. By Aleks Menshikov/Panoramio/CC BY-ND 3.0

 

What's left of the house. July, 2009. By Paramecium CC BY-SA 3.0

What is left of the house. July 2009. By Paramecium/CC BY-SA 3.0

On December 26, 2008, the tower was pulled down, and the remainder was dismantled manually over the course of the next several months. What remained as of late 2009 was a small two-story wooden house, roughly the size of what Sutyagin had originally planned to build. What remained of the structure burned to the ground on May 6, 2012.