The HemLoft is a secret treehouse built by Joel Allen in Whistler, Canada. The treehouse can be found (with a great deal of effort) on a piece of crown land (government owned land). Because it was constructed without permission, Joel has opted to keep its exact location a secret in the hope that it won’t be removed.
The HemLoft is constructed around a single tree on a precipitous slope and surrounded by other hemlocks – a beautiful site befitting of this contemporary lofted retreat.
Despite its modern aesthetic and clean cut lines, the treehouse blends in harmoniously with the environment due to its natural, egg-shaped form.
The former Canadian software developer turned carpenter has written at length about the build and its construction on his website, but you can find a surmised version below.
“After graduating with a degree in software development in 2003, Joel went to work for a start-up company that would eventually fold in 2006. Jobless and without direction, he met ‘Old Man John’ in the spring of 2008 at a festival. A self-taught caprpenter, Old Man John would inspire Joel to pursue his passion for carpentry. Joel decided to trade the keyboard and mouse for a hammer and nail.”
“When Joel first began his foray into carpentry he was living out of his car. On a random job site he met a friend who was also an outdoor-adventure type (and also living out of his car). They quickly bonded and got into a pastime they called ‘sport sleeping’ which involved outdoing each other by sleeping in outrageous places outside (e.g. inside a hollowed out log). This pastime led Joel to want his own little place in the woods.”
“Joel mentioned the idea of a loft in the woods to his friends Mark and Jayne who casually suggested the shape of an egg. It was at that moment that the HemLoft took its form. The design was based on triangular strength (with one side of the triangle curved). To test the design, Joel built a scale-model 1/4 the size.”
Together Joel and his partner Heidi completed the HemLoft in August of 2011. Since the treehouse was built on crown land, Joel technically doesn’t own it and so the fate of HemLoft is uncertain. While Joel kept the treehouse’s location secret for the past few years, it has been shared through various websites and magazines, with a number of people against having it demolished.
Photos: Joel Allen