Joel Allen’s Magical HemLoft In British Columbia

Any good architect would say that a design should reflect not only himself, but the environment it lives in as well. Joel Allen however, takes this concept to an entirely different level; For all the kids who fantasize about living in a luxurious and masterly-crafted treehouse when they grow up, it’s nice to see that Allen went through with it!

After his failed attempt to retire at 26, Allen could no longer afford a place to live, and that’s when the former software developer decided to become a carpenter. This twist in fate was inspired by Allen’s friend and mentor – Old Man John.

This story is beginning to sound like a novel, isn’t it?





Old Man John was a carpenter who lived in a secluded cabin surrounded by nature and his own little creations of gardens and shacks – far away from the widespread internet cables and radio signals.

After a year-long learning process, Allen used his newfound skills to get himself a job working as a professional carpenter.

The concoction of necessity, inspiration, and skilled carpentry resulted in his quest to build himself an extraordinary home!




The self-taught carpenter said he spent about $6,500 on his dream space.

However, most of the building materials were obtained through Craigslist, which means that the estimated worth of his dwelling actually exceeds $12,000.

Allen worked on the construction of the project for over two years, and kept it secret until after it was completed.




Somewhere halfway up a tree on a hillside in WhistlerBritish Columbia, a hand-crafted wooden egg-shaped shelter filled the air with warmth and light!




The front provided small circular platforms as steps that lead up to the base of the structure.




The structure was comprised of several vertical arch-shaped supports among which wooden planks were placed and stacked upwards.

This created a shelter from the elements without sacrificing the enchanting atmosphere of the natural woods around it.




Limited by the proportions of the tree it was built around, Allen designed the HemLoft as one unit with a small spiral staircase inside, wrapped around the tree.

The top of the HemLoft is a circle of skylights based outwards from the tree, from which you could look out and simply take in the breath-taking wildlife, serene scenery, and even occasional bear-sightings.




Of course, as with most wonderful things, there’s a catch: the site of the crafted masterpiece sits on government owned crown-land.

Unfortunately, after the HemLoft became a popular tourist attraction, Allen was forced to dismantle and take down his home of nearly two years.

Ironically, the parts were listed back on Craigslist.



All photographs courtesy of Joel Allen.


One thing’s for sure – Joel Allen's story, and his creation, lives on in the minds and hearts of anyone who’s ever seen it.

There isn’t a single child, nature lover, or craftsman who wouldn’t have loved to spend at least one night in the cozy cradle of the HemLoft.

As the saying goes, good things truly do come in small packages!

To learn more about this story, visit The HemLoft website page today!

For more fantastic treehouse architecture, check out A Canadian Treehouse By Designer Lynne Knowlton, and The Tree House As A Place To Play!


Researched and Written by Mikhail Shchupak-Katsman, Undergraduate Environmental Design, OCAD University

Posted In: British Columbia

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