Thomas Edison also invented the concrete house, researcher says

June 1, 2011
Edison's concrete house is shown in this image. Credit: New Jersey Institute of Technology

Afficionados of modern poured-concrete design were in for a rude awakening last month when they heard NJIT Assistant Professor Matt Burgermaster's presentation at the 64th annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians. "Edison's 'Single-Pour System: Inventing Seamless Architecture" illustrated how Thomas Edison invented and patented in 1917 an innovative construction system to mass produce prefabricated and seamless concrete houses. Typically most people associate this style of architectural design and type of building technology with the European avant-garde of the early 20th century.

Unknown to many people, however, is that many Edison houses remain standing in towns surrounding West Orange, New Jersey, where Edison's factory was located and is now a National Historic Park. On the park grounds is even a prototype of Edison's concrete house.

"Edison's one-of-a-kind system was patented for the purpose of building a single, repeatable structure without any parts, with a single act of construction," said Burgermaster, "And, remarkably, 100 years later many of these houses remain standing."

This paper analyzed Edison's invention of a single-pour system for concrete construction as a novel application of this material's dynamic behavior and speculated on its role in the development of a type of integrated building anatomy that, perhaps inadvertently, also invented the idea of a seamless architecture.

Originally motivated by the objective of providing a cost-effective prototype for the working-class home, this early experiment in was one of Modernism's first attempts to construct a building with a single material.

Edison's 1917 patent proposed a building-sized mold that leveraged the intrinsically dynamic capacity of concrete to form itself into a variety of shapes and sizes, limited only by the design of its framework. The invention's potential efficiencies resided in the distribution of this material as a continuous flow through an entire building instead of being confined to the prefabrication of its constituent parts.

By physically integrating all interior and exterior building components and their associated functions of structure, enclosure, and infrastructure within a single, monolithic concrete cast, all aspects of assembly were eliminated. It was a whole without any parts-- a building without joints.

This radical proposition - a seamless architecture - was built by Edison before it was conceptualized by the European avant-garde (such as Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus) with whom it later became associated. While they imagined concrete as a material without a history or author - one well-suited to industrialized modes of production - and aestheticized such autonomy and anonymity as a material truth, Edison's single-pour system matter-of-factly proposed an alternative causal relationship between material and form.

Its physical seamlessness was not a representation of architecture as an idealized, machine-made object, but was an effect of actual material behavior. As such, this technological invention not only delivered an innovative construction method, but also an alternative way of thinking about the material itself.

"I don't think this research on Edison's invention offers grounds for anyone to call those European architects copycats. As anyone in a creative field knows, sometimes these things are just in the air and like minds can be said to think alike," said Burgermaster. "Edison's approach to invention remains as radical today as it was a century ago. It's been very interesting finding this body of work and making it visible. My hope is that this 'lost' chapter in the early history of construction will demonstrate that Edison not only left a mark on the field of architecture right here in our back-yard, but that his unique approach to design thinking offers a model for how today's architects and designers can add value to the process of technological problem-solving."

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5 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2011
They should use these in hurricane and tornado areas. You can always just get the walls covered with something if you don't like concrete's appearance.
Jun 01, 2011
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4.7 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
Fucking Americans think they can steal all of Europe's inventions and down the line they forget they are Europeans themselves(well basically a de-volved version by now), fucking hypocrites!

Wow, angry much? No one said that concrete hasn't been used before--this article is about the use of poured, seamless concrete. The Romans, if you had RTFA you posted, used concrete bricks.
Jun 01, 2011
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4.8 / 5 (6) Jun 01, 2011
For someone who I've seen chirp Americans on multiple threads, you seem quite pompous and vile yourself.

Also, if you read the article, it's not saying Thomas Edison invented concrete. It's saying he "invented and patented in 1917 an innovative construction system to mass produce prefabricated and seamless concrete houses".

That's from the part in bold at the top. I can understand if you didn't get that far in the article before flying off to Wikipedia's concrete article to make yourself seem intelligent to yourself.
Jun 01, 2011
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4.8 / 5 (8) Jun 01, 2011
lol yes Thomas Edison invented it!

Edison did invent and patent a series of forms to be used in the construction of homes. Everybody knows that the Romans are credited with "inventing" concrete using raw materials from the Bath area in Britain.

Nowhere in this article is the claim that Edison invented concrete.

I though that Europeans could read.
Jun 01, 2011
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3.7 / 5 (9) Jun 01, 2011
Hey Na-Reth, not all americans are of european decent...we have our own native people you know...
You're arguments really don't have any merit that can be seen over your attempted bashing of a country you're obviously jealous of buddy. But I would be pissed too if my country could be obliterated in 5 minutes by the US military too I'm sure.
Yell at your own country :)
Jun 01, 2011
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5 / 5 (7) Jun 01, 2011
Don't feed the troll, please.
1 / 5 (5) Jun 01, 2011
ok last feeding I promise :)

NATO...hmmm, you mean that trump card of a group that we don't listen to anyways....that NATO??...the one that couldn't do squat if it weren't for the US right...

the "european continent" only exists because of the US and Russia (and NATO only exists because we set it up for hemisphere wide wars) woulda been wiped out oh, about 60 years ago all attributable to a short moustached I think the words you are really looking for to americans is THANK YOU (especially former soldiers such as myself, but more importantly, my grandfather and many others who fought and died for you to complain about us americans). To which we will reply YOU'RE WELCOME....
4 / 5 (4) Jun 01, 2011
Idiot. Assumptions are one of your worst enemies.
I looked it up in wikipedia because i was pretty sure he invented shite.

He didn't invent shite. He "invented and patented in 1917 an innovative construction system to mass produce prefabricated and seamless concrete houses. "

Still working on those reading comprehension skills I see.
3 / 5 (2) Jun 01, 2011
Thomas Edison invented houses.
Jun 01, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
2 / 5 (2) Jun 01, 2011
While the article is probably mostly factual, the title is indeed poorly worded.

"Thomas Edison also invented the concrete house"

it should be more like... Thomas Edison invented *A* concrete house model for mass production. So there would be two people at fault in the argument... firstly the article writers who lied/exaggerated/sensationalized the title, and secondly the people who didn't read it, and started yelling things based on the first few words they read.

Oh, and Thomas Edison really was a dick. I wouldn't be surprised if his system was created by some poor sod who he later cheated or bankrupted in some way.
2.5 / 5 (11) Jun 01, 2011
Nationalism is just as ugly whether it's coming from a European or an American.
3 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2011
A quote from Nikola Tesla on Edison
If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety percent of his labor.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2011
the "european continent" only exists because of the US and Russia woulda been wiped out oh, about 60 years ago all attributable to a short moustached I think the words you are really looking for to americans is THANK YOU (especially former soldiers such as myself, but more importantly, my grandfather and many others who fought and died for you to complain about us americans). To which we will reply YOU'RE WELCOME

The truth of the matter is that you are only familiar with your own government's version of history which naturally is skewed. The victor's write history... I bet you believe Iraq had WMDs, Bin Laden attacked because he hates freedom, and the US military action is occuring in a half-dozen nations to spread democracy.
You, just like your grandfather, are pawns whose lives, just like the lives and nations you destroy, are of little consequence to your leaders. But, hey you reap what you sow. How many children did you kill btw?
3 / 5 (1) Jun 02, 2011
@ otto1882

what does the iraq war have to do with this discussion? The war that was brought up was WW2 in which circumstances were completely different. The countries in Europe would have likely suffered greatly had we not intervened. If not, the US would have had an even bigger problem on its hands (which is why we went in when we did). You are right that the history we hear is skewed in favor of us, but that does not mean we should disrespect the people who fought in the war.

Now, to bring it back on topic, the article is giving credit to an American who came up with a novel way to build houses with concrete. Apparently, people in Europe came up with it at the same time. Great Job! It seems that both regions have intelligent people, but unfortunately both have retarded people as well.

ugh, how did this turn into a regional pride debate ...
4.3 / 5 (3) Jun 02, 2011
That's one ugly building. It embodies all the lack of architecture I despise.
As to the bizzare trolling going on here, why? We all know Edison invented a lot of things, and stole even more inventions, he was a total dick.
I don't know why you're ranting about WW2 stuff, but all of Eurasia would be drastically different if the USA hadn't finally jumped in. (Only the old Soviet Unions revisionist history disagrees.) And politicians and their lies suck, no matter what country they call home.
Now how about getting back to the subject of the article.

One last thing for the racist douches out there, I'm more of Cherokee descent than anything else, so lay off your ignorant generalizations.
2.5 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2011
Europe views us as a imperialism which I agree we still occupy military bases there for obvious reasons. So I think they get a little itchy when ever they hear us saying any thing slightly nationalistic as it might be apart of a larger movement in preparation for further territorial gain.
1 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2011
For the Euro haters.

put h for link to work.
1 / 5 (2) Jun 02, 2011
I read some posts yesterday that aren't here today. In the fairness of the democratic process I don't agree with them being pulled. I think that anybody can say whatever they like. Without censorship. And now I'm going to respond to a couple of things in this thread.

America's involvement in Europe in WW2 was to gain World Reserve Currency status. Formerly the British Sterling.

America's involvement in Iraq was to get a handle on Mid East Oil. Primarily to protect America's extravagant life style.

These two things are directly related since oil is bought in U.S. dollars. And America must do all the Empire building it can to try to keep it that way.

I am an American. Do I approve? No! But for all of you out there who think we are a bunch of stupid rednecks. I happen to agree. Just look at the last Jack Ass we elected as President. And I'm not a Dem. for those who are about to say. But I think the fairest thing to say is that 90% of all people are stupid rednecks. Thanks for reading
2.3 / 5 (7) Jun 02, 2011
It's really only censorship, with regards to fairness in the democratic process, if a state does the censoring. This website is essentially private property and the owners are free to tell people to leave. It would be about the same as you telling someone to leave your home.

This is kind of in the same vein as Sarah Palin lamenting the loss of her free speech rights because liberals ridicule her. It's a fundamental (probably intentional) misunderstanding of the situation.
1.5 / 5 (2) Jun 05, 2011
Romans didn't ever used concrete bricks. The Pantheon's dome is a seamless (variable density too!) concrete building. Surely Edison patented something about concrete building, but the article's writer apparently knows nothing about building technology, so he/she couldn't explain what it is.
1 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2011
@otto-True,, history is always skewed by the victor, but it doesn't matter, what matters is that we went and we saved millions, if not billions, of lives in the process. This was done in combination with what was left of the eurpoean countries. I know MANY europeans, and like them all (but none of bashers of the US). My comments were not against europeans, only that basher, and I stated simple fact...the EU isnt greater Germany in other words. I think you would be VERY hard pressed to find any american whatsoever who thinks iraq had WMDs. We all know it was Bush's lame excuse to get back at Saddam for his daddy. A real soldier, hell futhermore, a real person, doesn't kill women or children purposely, only the cowards, and there ARE some cowards in ALL military forces...people that simply should not be there (and btw, at least in the Infantry, we found ways to rid the potential battlefield of those people, but some are overlooked unfortunately).

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