It’s not easy being green

Vivid carpet, vivid memories

Green carpeted stairsOne of the first things to leap out at any new arrival to Kuring-gai has always been the vibrant green carpet and fuchsia handrails. Tony McDermott, Campus Security Supervisor, says that the most frequently asked question about the carpet – by staff, students and campus visitors – is simply "Why?”

His honest answer is, “it was written into the buildings’ building code”. Historians Cliff Turney and Judy Taylor state that the carpet was designed exclusively for the site, manufactured for purpose with, “The bright green of the carpet contrasting with the soft greens of the bush and the grey of the concrete.” Tony agrees and feels the carpet brings a feel of the outdoors inside, “it works quite well, particularly with the large, glass-panel windows framing that view of white gum trees”. The fuchsia was a bright highlight intended to bring additional colour inside.

It’s surprisingly familiar to many who never trod the halls of Kuring-gai as well. Although designed for the campus, its application wasn’t exclusive and was later used in a number of public education institutions. Some students remember the carpet from their primary or high school days, where it was as famed for its ability to give carpet burn, as it was for its hue. It was also not unknown for the hard-wearing Green to make cameo appearances in other Public and Government buildings during the 70s and early 80s.

And there’s always been a lot of it; some estimate that up to five kilometres of carpet decks the halls at Kuring-gai. Tony recalls that in its hey-day the green was fashionable, and easy to source. It was even sold overseas as ‘Australian Green’, but as time wore on and accepted flooring styles became more ‘beige’, manufacturing ceased. As the building code demanded worn sections to be replaced with the same green there was no choice but to have it specially made. To make it worthwhile for suppliers, UTS had to order a $50,000 minimum, with 5 or 6 gigantic rolls arriving at a time.

“The bright green of the carpet contrasts with the soft greens of the bush and the grey of the concrete.”

Tony believes the green carpet holds significant and vivid memories for all who attended Kuring-gai. At a recent Faculty of Business farewell he cut 90 little squares of carpet as mementos.  “Not one piece of that carpet got left behind that night” he says, and he likes to think that, “those small squares of carpet sit pride of place on their desks as a coaster or reminder of Kuring-gai”.

Story by James Cottam