Passive cooling for Syria’s beehive houses

beehive house, syria, made from mud, sheep grazing in foreground

With the unbearable heat of a Middle Eastern July upon us, many of us try to find ways to stay cool.  Though regular energy-guzzling air conditioning is tempting, some of us will try to relieve our consciences with more energy effecient cooling methods, such as using the cross breeze or a solar powered air conditioner.

beehive house, syria, made from mud

But way before there were electronic ways to condition our temperatures, cooling methods were built into the architecture of traditional Middle Eastern homes.  Such as the beehive homes found in Syria.

beehive house, syria, made from mud, keep storage cool

Remaining beehive homes (nicknamed “beehive” because of their conical, tapered shapes) are located mainly in northern Syria – west and east of the Aleppo and along the Euphrates River.  Two towns that still have a number of these traditional beehive homes in good shape are Sarouj and Twalid Dabaghein.

beehive homes syria ,roof looking up to sun

The beehive homes keep the heat out in a few ways.  Their thick mud brick walls trap in the cool and keep the sun out as well (beehive homes have very few, if any, windows).  The high domes of the beehive houses also collect the hot air, moving it away from the residents sleeping at the bottom of the house.Combining natural elegance with architectural functionality, the shapes of the beehive homes keep interior temperatures between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

beehive house, syria, made from mud

The beehive homes also protect their residents from cold temperatures, serving as a strong guard against powerful desert winds and maintaining a comfortable temperature.

beehive house, syria, made from mud

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