Gallery: These Earthen “Beehive” Houses Have Been Keeping Syrians Natur...

The interior and exterior walls are packed with straw and mud. Being in the arid desert, the mud walls dry to a hard and durable finish.

Beehive homes can be found in the thick of hot deserts and cities. Most are found in rural farming communities, but there are even villages of them located in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, which has been continually inhabited since the 6th millennium BC. The Aleppo beehive homes are used for both storage and residences.

Built of all natural local materials, the thick walls act as thick insulation, helping to cool the interior by keeping out the sun. The walls are made from mud bricks and stacked in a giant circle. Building height, they close in to a conical shape and are capped off by domes. The interior and exterior walls are packed with straw and mud: in the arid desert, the mud walls dry to a hard and durable finish.

The top of the beehive dwellings have an oculus—a hole that provides light to the interior and sucks hot air up and out. Even though there is an opening at the top of the dwelling, the conical shape keeps the interior dry during the rare rainy season. The shape also enables rain to quickly drain off of the façade, meaning minimal mud erosion on the exterior of the homes.

The interiors of the beehive homes are very dark, as most are built without windows. Although the darkness can be inconvenient, the windowless walls protect residents from the harsh desert winds, and block out the sun. With these natural heat-beating factors in place, the interior of each home remains around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit, while the outside desert can blaze up to a blistery 140 degrees!

These eco-friendly beehive houses have been keeping desert dwellers across the Middle East sustainably cool and comfortable for centuries, and continue to do so even now.

Via Earth Architecture

Images © James Gordon, lead image via Shutterstock



or your inhabitat account below


  1. Khaled El-Jabi June 19, 2014 at 2:19 am

    Dear Inhabitat. Wonderful story and great to see my country represented in the green building field….for centuries. However, I’d like to point out that Aleppo is the second largest city in Syria. Damascus, the capital, is the largest and oldest, continuously inhabited capital in the world. How do I know? I am Syrian and my family name, El-Jabi, is the name of one of the 7 gates of the old city of Damascus. It has been a great debate over the years which city is actually older but in my personal opinion, does it matter? Both cities are ancient and both are magnificent. We are in fact blessed to have 2 ancient cities that have been continuously inhabited for over 7000 years. The main concentration of those beehive structures is around Homs and Hama.
    Thanks and I hope you can correct the information on the post.

  2. Amanuel Yoseph June 18, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    I think these are very cool. I mean literally :)

    This is before any school of architecture was ever established. So are going backwards when it comes to learn how to adopt and live in our environment. Outside temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while inside temperature remain 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. I say that is very COOL :)

  3. Mucho Relax May 1, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    These homes are amazing. I live in a place where people have built homes with mud/straw mix for a very long time and the walls still stand…we\’re talking hundred-year-old structures. So, feline74, there\’s your answer. In fact, I am building a mud dome currently…this is in the Chihuahuan Desert of TX, but you can build with mud anywhere in the world. In wetter climes you simply need more overhang on your roof or some other way to prevent rain from hitting your walls. Best building material in the world…I LOVE MUD!

  4. feline74 November 29, 2011 at 5:38 am

    The DESIGN has been around for centuries, but you aren’t saying how long an individual house lasts.

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home