A MAN WHO built his very own treehouse in Whistler, Canada is uncertain of its fate as it is built on public land.
Joel Allen, perhaps a modern-day Tarzan, built his dream home – ‘The HemLoft’ – after his career as a software developer flopped.
Allen’s dream home was built both in secret and illegally, but its future is now in jeopardy due to all the exposure about the project.
At 26, after a failed career and after attempting to retire he was left penniless. While he was figuring out what to do next he encountered ‘Old man John’ – a man he describes on his website as “living the life that I had subconsciously been pining after, in my mission to retire”.
He was a self-taught carpenter who seemed to have a free spirited existence. “I admired his vitality and his curious lens on life,” said Allen.
The concept for the treehouse came about in 2008 when he came up with an egg-shaped design for a dwelling of his own. Without any cash to buy a suitable site for his tree house, he decided to simply squat in the forest.
The HemLoft took years to construct, cost thousands of dollars – but it showed what truly great skills Allen had. Finally in August 2011 the HemLoft was done. Allen eventually went public with the HemLoft featuring it in a major design magazine.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie Allen said:
I love spending time out in the woods, exploring and hiking around. However, living out there full time would be too logistically challenging for most, including me. My ideal living situation is in a small to medium sized town, with active people, and extensive access to the great outdoors. That way I can still have social contact while enjoying everything that nature has to offer.
Since the treehouse was built on publicly owned land, Allen says that he doesn’t “technically own it” so his hand-made dwelling’s future is uncertain.
He told TheJournal.ie that he “will not be living in the HemLoft this summer. Instead, it will be open for others to visit and enjoy. However, if people want to visit, they first have to find it. Keeping the location secret ensures that only the determined find it. Those are the types I would like stopping by”. He added:
Many people in Whistler seem to be endorsing the idea, including some political figures who have asked me to do presentations. Whistler has a culture of adventure and off-beat living so this is something they can related to in principle. However, the HemLoft does pose a safety liability and some may have concerns about that. Although I would like to see it survive for a few more years, I will respect the municipalities wishes if they ask me to take it down.
Allen says that he thinks forest living is great stating:
I think that living in small space that is close to nature is a wonderful way to live. It forces one to assess the essentials of life and shed many things that don’t improve one’s quality of life. Spaces don’t seem quite so small if they have an immediate connection to the outdoors. Living in the HemLoft made me realize that I would much rather have a modest home in a luxurious setting than a luxurious home in a modest setting.
So what do you think of Allen’s forest home – would it tempt you to become one with nature?