The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Sunday, May 16, 2021

Siberia's treasured wooden houses face uncertain future
A man walks past former house of Akhmedula Akhmedov, 1902, a traditional wooden house in the Siberian city of Tomsk on September 8, 2020, which is one of the famous wooden buildings in Tatar neighbourhood of Tomsk. Tomsk is considered to be one of the oldest towns in Siberia founded in 1604. Wooden architecture is one of the symbols of the city of Tomsk, its distinctive feature. Today Tomsk is the only city in Siberia where the background wooden buildings have been preserved, reflecting the manor structure of the city streets. Unfortunately, many wooden houses are not in very good condition and require restoration. Alexander NEMENOV / AFP.

by Romain Colas

TOMSK (AFP).- The ornate wooden homes dotting the Siberian city of Tomsk are cherished landmarks, but that hasn't prevented many from falling into disrepair following years of neglect, with some now facing demolition.

A scattering of the iconic buildings still boast brightly-coloured and cared-for exteriors with intricate wood carvings adorning window frames and roofs.

A large number, however, look as if they have been abandoned.

The townhouses represent some of the finest examples of wooden architecture in the country.

Yet historians in the city say their future is uncertain, with government support too slow to respond to the urgent need to save them and commercial interests spying prime real estate.

Many of the homes have only survived this long because residents "were forced to live in what already existed", historian Sergei Maltsev, 46, tells AFP.

There are around 2,000 of the historic houses in the city of 575,000 people, Maltsev says, pointing out that fewer than 100 are preserved by the state as heritage sites.

Some fall prey to real-estate developers and can be levelled on orders from the mayor.

Some 2,900 kilometres (1,800 miles) east of Moscow, Tomsk is one of the oldest cities in Siberia, founded in 1604 on the banks of the river Tom.

At the beginning of the 20th century, it was a major transport hub through which merchants would pass on their way to Asia.

Conservation efforts lack 'political will'
Traders, craftsmen and blacksmiths built hundreds of the houses made of wood -- affordable building material at the time -- to demonstrate their success.

But the age of prosperity was short-lived.

In the 1910s, Tomsk was stripped of its status as the regional capital in favour of a village called Novonikolaeyvsk, located some 265 km southwest, which was to become a stop on the Trans-Siberian railway.

That settlement would later be renamed Novosibirsk, now the third largest city in Russia and a large industrial centre dominated by imposing Soviet-style buildings made of concrete blocks.

In 2016, a project was launched aimed at establishing a historic preservation zone in Tomsk within which the wooden houses could not be destroyed.

But the initiative has been slow to get off the ground even though Russian President Vladimir Putin last year personally instructed local government to ramp up conservation efforts.

Maltsev puts this down to "lobbying by construction companies" or the "usual bureaucratic delays".

Another conservation programme sees the properties rented at a symbolic price on the condition that they will be restored by their new inhabitants.

But it is yet to have any significant impact.

Maltsev says the programme "works" but notes it has saved fewer than 10 houses since it launched three years ago.

"It takes a long time and there are few investors given the current economic situation," he tells AFP.

The historian believes that only "political will" can protect the landmarks.

He gives as an example the ongoing renovation in the town of Plyos on the Volga River where former president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev is believed to own an estate.

"Unfortunately, none of the big bosses are from Tomsk," Maltsev jokes.

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

October 15, 2020

Lark Mason Associates announces Fall Sale of Asian, Ancient and Ethnographic Works

Exhibition of photographs by Lionel Delevingne opens at the Stockbridge Station Gallery

William Shakespeare's 'First Folio' sets world auction record for any work of literature - $9.9M at Christie's

Simone Leigh is first Black woman to represent U.S. at Venice Biennale

Städel Museum announces acquisition of Max Beckmann's "Self-Portrait with Champagne Glass"

How a Medusa sculpture from a decade ago became #MeToo art

Major Thomas Cole painting gifted to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Nationalmuseum acquires portraits of women painters

Pace Gallery announces David Byrne online charity exhibition to promote unity in lead-up to US election

Exhibition at Nailya Alexander Gallery focuses on artistic representations of early Soviet aviation

Congo activist fined for snatching 'looted' Paris museum artefact

Sydney Modern Project, expansion by SANAA, to transform Art Gallery of New South Wales

Siberia's treasured wooden houses face uncertain future

Building a personal smell museum of Los Angeles

Magical masterpiece leads Bonhams Orientalist art sale in London

PM/AM opens an exhibition of works by Anthony Miler

The Old Windermere Fire Station transformed into a Museum of... anything you can imagine!

Socrates Director to step down in coming year

Herbert Kretzmer, lyricist for 'Les Misérables,' dies at 95

Pirelli HangarBicocca opens a retrospective exhibition devoted to Chen Zhen

Is it streetwear or is it art?

Exhibition brings together paintings by Enoc Perez and photographs by Brigitte Schindler and Carlo Mollino

Exhibition of new works by Richard Tuttle on view at Modern Art

The Winter Visual Arts Building opens at Franklin & Marshall College

5 Popular Casino Games Ranked From Easiest To Most Challenging

The Positives of Live Streaming for Schools

All that You Need to Know About Sexual Harassment

Pop up and go - 7 advantages of Pop-up Display

Things You Should Know To Become A Real Estate Agent

5 extraordinary advantages of New York Construction Accident Attorneys

A Beginner's Guide to Mailing Envelopes and Shipping Boxes

What should you consider when buying Chapel chairs?

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful