free spirit sphere
Photo: Denis Beauvais
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Free Spirit Spheres

Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada
(and anyplace else, too, if you want to buy one)

Tom Chudleigh is the inventor, manufacturer, and distributor of these tree-mounted spheres, and he wants to give you a bird's eye view of nature. Inspired by sailboat construction and riggings, he made his first wood sphere prototype in the style of cedar-strip canoes, which calls for assembling beautiful, thin strips of wood and sealing them with epoxy resin and fiberglass cloth. To get to the unit, you climb a spiral stairway that's wrapped around a tree trunk , then cross a suspension bridge to the front door. According to Chudleigh, the spheres "use the forest for its foundation, so occupants have a vested interest in the health of the grove." Free Spirit Spheres are set up at a "treesort" in British Columbia, Canada, and are available for rent. Safety is ensured by extensive tree examination for size and health, and a complex rope webbing system that evenly distributes each unit's weight between three trees. If you want to order your own sphere, Chudleigh suggests consulting an arborist before choosing between a wood unit (wired, insulated, heated, and plumbed) for about $150,000 each and a fiberglass unit (insulated and wired) for about $45,000 each.
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