In 1948 Buckminster Fuller arrived at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, getting staff and students to join in his experiments with geodesic domes, and generally throwing himself into life there. 'He electrified the campus, ' says a contributor to the catalogue of Starting at Zero: Black Mountain College 1933-57, an exhibition at Kettle's Yard, Castle Street, Cambridge, until 2 April (www. kettlesyard. co. uk).
Josef and Anni Albers, refugees from Hitler's Germany, were the early driving forces behind the college, which - like the Bauhaus where they had formerly taught - tried to put the arts at the heart of the curriculum, encourage connections between them, and 'educate the whole person: head, heart and hand'. Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer drew up plans for a new campus but funds were lacking and the students finished up doing self-build to designs by Lawrence Kocher.
The college eventually teetered to a close in the late '50s with the poet Charles Olson as rector.
Featuring colour studies by Josef Albers, textiles by his wife, paintings by Robert Rauschenberg, new Fuller models made by Cambridge architecture students (see picture), ceramics, sculptures and photographs, the exhibition does a fine job of conveying both the varied output of Black Mountain and the nature of daily life there - even if one of the greatest figures associated with the college, the artist Willem de Kooning (who taught there at the same time as Fuller), is only represented by a tiny drawing. There's a real sense of disciplines thriving through looking outside themselves, which could still prompt thought in some schools of architecture.
Opening this coming Saturday at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester University, is a selection from the promised bequest to the gallery by architect Trevor Dannatt, current president of the Twentieth Century Society. Works by such artists as Fernand Leger, Paul Nash and Patrick Heron are on show until 7 May (www. whitworth. man. ac. uk). In London, a series of Docomomo lectures on concrete begins on 28 February, with sessions on Candela, Owen Williams, Perret and Kahn in the next few months (tel 020 7253 6624).
For forthcoming events visit www. ajplus. co. uk/diary