Just after World War II the US Army experimented with a lot of different housing technologies (see 58 Lustron Homes Being Given Away). This International Style gem was built in 1949 out of Thermo-Con, a "combination of Portland cement, water, aluminum flake, caustic soda, and bituminous emulsion. It provided a gas-expanded, cellular cement composition having a remarkably high strength-to-weight ratio."
The Army liked the stuff because:
"It had many of the advantages of wood, including the ability to saw it and drive screws or nails into it. In addition to being moisture and vermin proof, the military also liked its high heat-insulating qualities....The "Thermo-Con" material consisted of "ordinary cement, water and a patented formula of mineral origin." This mixture was poured into molds and left to "rise," a process compared to baking a cake."
It was one of those miracle materials that architects like Le Corbusier were looking for, that did everything in one step, a flexible, moldable, insulating material. Too bad it never took off.
The house was designed by Albert Kahn, the talented Detroit architect who designed everything from muscular factories for the auto makers to the glass conservatory on Belle Isle. I could not find any more information on the marvellous material and wonder if anyone else has. Thermo-con house at Fort Belvoir
International Style in TreeHugger:
Summer Sights: The Glass House
More Materials in TreeHugger
GreenBuild: Durisol, the Green Insulated Concrete Form
GreenBuild: Agriboard Structural Insulated Panels
Strawbale Cabin by Studio Makkink & Bey
Can We Make Termite Resistant Houses of Chicken Feathers?