At the turn of the century, inventor Thomas Alva Edison developed a clever system of cast-iron molds that would allow a contractor to pour a concrete house in a day. By bolting together a complete set of molds, a contractor could create a house based on Edison's original designs, complete from cellar to chimney. As many as 500 different sections were needed for a single unit. After the concrete entered the mold system through a distribution tank at the roof level, the material flowed downward, filling all the molds within 6 hours. The molds were then left in place for 6 days to allow the concrete to cure.

Although a wonderful solution for affordable living space, Edison's concrete homes never caught on, perhaps because of the high cost of the molds, the lack of trained craftsmen in the art of building with concrete, or the public's perception of concrete as a heavy, monolithic material. Edison's vision simply was ahead of its time.