Limits, nature and artifice | Luis Gil

Límites, naturaleza y artificio Luis Gil

When talking about limit or border, the words of bankruptcy or separation are instantly added to the conversation. A first approach to the definition of boundary or border spaces, would limit them as those areas of emptiness or obstacle that are shaped or structured as a nature that is little or not practicable, in which the movement slows down or stops due to the difficulty of the traffic. The origin of its logic is in the geographical accident that separates different worlds, ordering the environment in a natural way.

Later, through the cultural and political, a new sense for the border arises in which its innate characteristics as a danger space are contributed artificially, taking advantage of the natural accident to which artificial norms or laws are added or building a limit ex-novo. Defining the limit based on its natural or artificial origin and the uses derived from this differentiation is essential to be able to later interpret the different life forms that are generated on this indeterminate space.

Border spaces, as obstacles to be saved or in which to survive, can therefore be natural or artificial, or natural used for artificial purposes, due to the political approach introduced by man. In origin and as we mentioned before the natural limit is the geographical accident that prevents the easy movement of the inhabitants of the ecosystem, turning the river, the mountain or the sea into limes rather than a border as explained by Eugenio Trías.1


The concept of border is therefore later and would then derive from limes, man overlapping with the natural interpretation of the limit an adjectivization or cultural quality, separation as a political addition. It is a specialization of the limit concept based on an artificial use of the natural. The accident or natural limit used as a border provides a first indication on the delimitation of the places to inhabit, on the spaces to dominate.

The use of the river, the hill or another geographical accident as an element of measurement by a society or group is the first step for the control and segregation of the territory by artificial means. From this perspective we could think of one of the most primitive notions of architecture, the delimitation of the natural space on which the individual or collective survival of living beings develops. Mark, mark and limit the areas and spaces used through their own signals, from the segregation of odors and moods to other more elaborate references to reach a higher degree of artificiality that man introduces into the territory when building.

All this is nothing more than separating, teaching what is proper and alien, natural to a species and barbaric to it, in order to delimit. From the anthropology that delimitation, those forms of dimensioning of the own space would not be less architecture than the more elaborate separation that the urban man ends up doing between the public and the private, through the enclosure between his house and the street.

Luis Gil Pita, architect
Santiago de Compostela, November 2019


Trías,  Eugenio. Lógica del límite, Ensayos  destino. Edt Destino, Barcelona 1991.

Article chapter Allegory of the border and the limit, originally published in the Obradoiro magazine nº34, winter 2009.

Luis Gil Pita

Arquitecto por la ETSA de A Coruña en 1997, desde ese año colabora en el estudio de Manuel Gallego Jorreto hasta 1999. Becado de investigación en Holanda en 2000-1, con un estudio sobre lo fronterizo y liminar en arquitectura, por la Diputación de A Coruña, fue posteriormente Profesor invitado en el área de proyectos de la Facultad de Arquitectura de Guimaráes, Universidade do Minho, del 2001 hasta el 2007. Desde el inicio de su carrera ha publicado asíduamente artículos y ha participado como editor en diferentes publicaciones alrededor de la arquitectura.

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