Described as ‘a woman for all seasons’ Barbara van den Broek was a registered architect, town planner and landscape architect, as well as a person committed to lifelong learning.
A founding member of the Queensland Institute of Landscape Architects in 1965, she later served terms as secretary, and as president from 1973-75.
Graduating with a Diploma in Architecture from the University of Auckland in 1956, Barbara van den Broek and her architect husband moved to Brisbane to set up a joint practice. In 1963 Barbara van den Broek won a competition for the design of an area of the grounds of the University of Queensland.
Barbara managed family and work, running her own architectural and landscape architectural practice as well as studying for a post graduate Diploma in Town and Country Planning at the University of Queensland. She graduated in 1966 with the Royal Australian Planning Institute prize for best graduate. She completed her postgraduate Diploma of Landscape Design from the Queensland Institute of Technology in 1969. She was remembered as being highly focussed in this course with the ability for quick analysis and a succinct solution to problems. At the same time Barbara van den Broek gave lectures at Queensland University as well as in Adult Education.
She was a member of the Queensland Institute of Landscape Architects when it was founded in 1965, later serving terms as secretary, and as president from 1973-75. Later van den Broek served as a Council Member of the Australian Insititute of Landscape Architects from 1975-79. In 1976 Barbara joined the National Trust of Queensland and was the first Chair of the Trust’s Landscape sub-committtee. In the 1970s she continued to design landmarks in Queensland and also worked in Papua New Guinea where she designed the Waigani Centre for government administration and parliament. At that time it was unusual for a woman on her own with a growing family to work on major state developments in Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, Canberra, Sydney, and Alice Springs.
Barbara moved to Melbourne in the early 1980s to work for Loder and Bayley. While there she joined the Landscape Committee of the National Trust in Victoria. By 1983 she had moved to Sydney and had taken up a position as landscape architect with Blacktown Council when it was not common for such a position to be available in local councils. Later Barbara combined teaching design in a horticulture course at Ryde Horticultural College (later part of Ryde TAFE) with private practice as a landscape architect. Van den Broek continued her interest in public parks by assisting the NSW National Trust and in 1997 she was honoured by the Trust with a Voluntary Service Silver Medallion.
A talented painter in oils, Barbara van den Broek also exhibited with a group of women artists in Brisbane. Her ability in photography complemented her artistic skills.
Contributed by Pauline McDonough
Obituary Landscape Australia 4, 2001 pp. 56- 57
Obituary Australian Garden History 13, no 3, Nov – Dec 2001, p 20