Darmon Richter is a British writer and photographer with a particular fascination for ideological architecture. Born in Oxford, he was studying to be a psychotherapist when a bad case of wanderlust lured him away to the unknown. He backpacked from North Korea to Haiti before settling in Eastern Europe, where he was mesmerised by the striking visual contradiction presented by countless communist-era buildings and memorials: bold, heroic, utopian designs, but so often left ruined and forgotten, like abandoned blueprints for a future that never came.
Darmon has now visited seventy-something countries, driven by a curiosity for the kinds of places that don’t get mentioned in travel guides: from disused military bunkers and tunnels, to otherworldly political architecture and controversial memorial sites. Rather than treat such places purely as architectonic forms, his interest in the relationship between built environments and their inhabitants has prompted hundreds of interviews over the years, with architects, artists and construction workers, citizens and revolutionaries. Darmon's expeditions have frequently been covered by the international press, including his reports on China’s ‘Ghost Cities’ and the unfinished Soviet nuclear power plant in Cuba. As a location scout, he has provided services for the BBC, Vice Media and Red Bull TV, as well as working as a location advisor, text editor and photographer on the Collins publication Abandoned Places (Richard Happer, 2016).
In addition to running his own personal website, The Bohemian Blog, Darmon’s writing has appeared on a wide range of platforms including Atlas Obscura, Foreign Affairs and CNN, and in 2016 he authored four chapters for the book Global Undergrounds (Dobraczyk, Galvis & Garrett, Reaktion Books). Meanwhile, Darmon’s photography has been featured by news media around the world, and has appeared in exhibitions in six countries – including an installation of his architectural photographs at the North Macedonian Pavilion for the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale.
Today Darmon designs and leads tours to communist-era architectural heritage sites in seven countries and one post-Soviet frozen conflict zone. After making roughly twenty trips into the Exclusion Zone in Ukraine, his debut book – Chernobyl: A Stalkers' Guide (FUEL, 2020) – paints an intimate portrait of the Chernobyl region and its inhabitants, three decades on from the disaster.
© Darmon Richter 2020