The beehive domed vernacular houses of Harran, Turkey were studied from the point of view of historical origin. The factors like climate, social and urban structure, spatial organization, construction and materials which effected the form of the buildings were considered. It has been discovered through this study that Harran houses can be built rapidly like tents, with burnt or sun-dried shallow bricks. Vernacular architecture of Harran illustrates the concepts of flexible building, climatic building design and re-usable building materials concepts. Possibilities of using this construction type in our times is discussed. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.