Helping create buildings for the community where they live has been a joy for Albury architects Kevin Debnam and Rob Simmons. They're pleased the next generation feels the same.
Nine Border architects met for lunch in 1986, keen to explore the value of pooling resources.
Thirty-four years later, the legacy of that conversation is a range of public buildings that both serve their purpose and enhance the landscape.
Now the last two of the original nine professionals - Rob Simmons and Kevin Debnam - are approaching retirement.
But they are glad younger architects like Carly Martin and Phillip Nielsen have seen the same potential in Albury-Wodonga they did and relocated to the region.
And all four recognise the advantage of living in the community where they work, which brings ongoing benefits to those who use the spaces they design.
Mr Simmons, 72, and Mr Debnam, 71, said Teilion Architects formed in the 1980s because the architects found themselves overlooked for larger projects on their own.
"While we were individuals we were only getting little buildings, nobody would trust us with a big building," Mr Simmons said.
"We had all been attracted to Albury-Wodonga by the development corporation and the promise of growth."
The Thurgoona headquarters of Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation became the new company's first project, closely followed by the West Wodonga building known as the Glasshouse, now the home of The Border Mail office.
Intent on getting started, the architects didn't worry about their venture's name until the body had to be registered.
Mr Debnam said they were presented with a list of available company names.
"Teilion was about the only one you could pronounce as a word," he said with a laugh.
Despite such an arbitrary origin, the new name stuck.
Over the years Teilion Architects has worked on buildings for organisations such as schools, universities, councils, Defence and road authorities.
"We did a large couple of projects for the uncles - Uncle Toby's and Uncle Ben's," Mr Simmons said.
Their imprint on the Border takes in Baker Motors in Albury, West Wodonga's Felltimber Community Centre and the refurbishment of Albury Railway Station.
A 30-year association with Commercial Club includes Albury's first multi-deck car park, with two levels built on top of an underground car park in 2001 and another two floors added in 2009.
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"You work with talented people and your clients are aspirational people and the builders are the salt of the earth, so they're all good to work with," Mr Simmons said.
"It was lovely practising here and being accountable, as it were, to the local community because you knew who was going to use your buildings."
That personal connection encouraged Mr Nielsen and Ms Martin to decide separately to move to the region.
"After years of being in big practice doing regional work but never meeting the community or the client, I thought there needs to be a change," Mr Nielsen said.
His interest in buildings stemmed from living in a growing housing estate as a child in Townsville.
"I used to go out on walks every day and explore the construction sites," he said.
"That grew to seeing towers being built and asking my mum to drive me past them so I could see the progress."
You work with talented people and your clients are aspirational people and the builders are the salt of the earth, so they're all good to work withRob Simmons
Mr Nielsen studied and worked in Brisbane and Melbourne before helping establish Regional Design Service in Corowa, his partner's home town.
Born in Wodonga, Ms Martin actually did work experience at Teilion Architects in secondary school then moved to Sydney for more than a decade to study and practise.
About 18 months ago, she set up Akimbo Architecture in Albury, having noticed several projects being awarded to architects in Sydney or Melbourne.
"I thought, well, there's definitely a market there for local architects," she said.
The Teilion stalwarts aren't connected work-wise with Ms Martin or Mr Nielsen but appreciate their arrival on the Border.
Mr Debnam said the growing franchise nature of Albury-Wodonga businesses often saw head offices employing city architects.
"To me, that's a backwards step," he said.
The architects feel the availability of information and products has made people more aware of design elements, which Mr Nielsen believes can lead to a better collaboration with clients.
"People realise that poor design leads to poor wellbeing and poor lifestyle and it's been a big change in the last 20 years," he said.
"It's great to see communities actually speak up about it and have the confidence to engage in the conversation about it."
"I think there's a growing consciousness around sustainability and the value, the knowledge that architects can bring in that discussion," Ms Martin added.
Peer support is not forgotten, with Ms Martin the NSW chair of a Border architects forum re-established this year.
"To foster a sense of community among the local architects, in the sense of sharing information and knowledge," she said.
The Teilion pair had been part of such groups during their long careers.
"It was just a way of communicating with each other, swapping frustrations and ideas," Mr Debnam said.
"Sometimes a problem comes along and you dwell over it and worry about it and you meet somebody and they had exactly the same problem."
He and Mr Simmons are retiring, rather than fully retired, and preferred to focus on the future, not themselves, in this article.
"We didn't want it to be the end of the story, but the start of the story," Mr Debnam said.