Dansborg seen from the Parade Ground. Photo: Sophie Petersen, 1950. National Museum of Denmark

Privacy on the move: two-way Processes, Data and Legacy of Danish metropolitan and colonial Architecture and Urbanism

INDIABRIDGE is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research project entitled “Privacy on the move: two-way Processes, Data and Legacy of Danish metropolitan and colonial Architecture and Urbanism.” It is authored by Nuno Grancho, hosted by the Centre for Privacy Studies (PRIVACY), University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020, Research and Innovation programme (Grant No. 895924).

Nuno Grancho is an architect, an urban planner and an architectural historian and theorist who works at the intersection of architecture, planning, material culture and colonial practices and its relationship with the transatlantic world and postcolonial Asia.

Grancho’s research examines how architectures and cities of struggle have shaped the modernity of South Asia. He is particularly interested in how architecture and urbanism are conceived as a medium, and how this conception informs the legitimation of architecture and urbanism as social and cultural practices.

Grancho’s research projects are focused on questions of human and material agency, the epistemology and geopolitics of architecture and urbanism as a technique of social intervention.

Grancho’s research and writing sit squarely within the architecture, urbanism and the humanities and focus on urban environments in South Asia from the sixteenth until the twentieth-century. Of special importance to his work are the spatial-morphological arrangements in architecture and cities that identify and enable the private, as withdrawal from the world, and the public, as engagement with that same world and, simultaneously, the tension between these dichotomies; i.e. the relationships between architecture and urbanism; urbanism and landscape; inside and the outside; center and periphery; theory and practice; those in power and those subjected to that power; intent and contingency; and the relationships between social and political processes and urban transformation.

He holds a Ph.D. in Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Coimbra since 2017.

In 2014, he was a Visiting Researcher in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Since 2017, he is a Postdoctoral researcher at Dinâmia’CET_Iscte, University Institute of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.

Since 2021, he is a Visiting Researcher at the Royal Danish Academy – School of Architecture, Design and Conservation, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Since 2021, he teaches at the Royal Danish Academy – School of Architecture, Design and Conservation, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Since 2021, he is a Postdoctoral researcher and a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen. Grancho research project is entitled “Privacy on the move: two-way Processes, Data and Legacy of Danish metropolitan and colonial Architecture and Urbanism”.

Nuno Grancho on Twitter.

Nuno Grancho on LinkedIn.

Nuno Grancho on Instagram.

Nuno Grancho on Dinâmia’cet_Iscte, University Institute of Lisbon

Nuno Grancho on ORCiD 



INDIABRIDGE aims to produce an understanding of the historical notions of privacy in architecture and urbanism since the 17th century were a bilateral mechanism between West and East. This will be achieved by analysing and recording border-crossing patterns and relationships in the built environment between Denmark and India. I will claim that Danish colonial architecture in India and the imprint of Indian architecture in metropolitan Denmark, represented a larger history of influence on how notions of privacy shape relations between individuals and society across diverse historical contexts.

By combining architectural and urbanism with history, anthropology and area studies’, my intention is to map and analyse border-crossing patterns and relationships of privacy between Denmark and India. Accordingly, I will conduct the research through systematic, site-based, interdisciplinary spatial analysis of the history, visual rhetoric, and spatial politics of privacy as an epistemological vantage point for Danish architecture and urbanism in Europe (Copenhagen and Altona, a former Danish port city and a present westernmost urban borough of Hamburg) and beyond Europe (Tranquebar and Serampore, former Danish colonial cities in India). It will locate Tranquebar and Serampore within the shifting locations of European architectural narratives in India and will propose relating other European colonial case studies, which enables comparative analysis between Northern and Southern Europe.

I will address the spatial-morphological arrangements in architecture and cities (buildings, architecture, urban layout and spatial structure of the city) in metropolitan Denmark and in colonial Denmark beyond Europe that identify and enable the private, as withdrawal from the world, and the public, as engagement with that same world and, simultaneously, I will explore the tension between these dichotomies.  I will argue that the act to selectively allow and rescind access to oneself, to one’s assets, and to the world about one’s life can be a lens to examine the architectural and urban disciplines connected histories.

The benefits are two-fold. First, I will establish research on privacy in Danish colonial architecture and urbanism, with the ambition of turning it into a forum for comparative and interdisciplinary enquiry in the field and ultimately in the host institution. Second, I will re-launch academic career in a specialized collaborative research infrastructure with focus on the built environment itself.

It will be a key to document and study the coming into being of Danish architecture and urbanism in Asia as a relevant Northern European case study for historical notions of privacy.


Research team


Nuno Grancho


Peter Thule Kristensen, Professor in History of Architecture and Interiors, Head of the master programme of Spatial Design, Institute of Architecture and Design, The Royal Danish Academy – Architecture, Design, Conservation, Copenhagen, Denmark.

International reference group and external advisors

Professor Rahul Mehrotra, Harvard University GSD, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Professor Maarten Delbeke, ETH, Zürich, Switzerland

Professor Daniel A. Barber, University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, Philadelphia, USA

Research Output


  • In Press, forthcoming February 2024, A History of Privacy in Danish and Indian Architecture: Urbanism of Colonialism, Routledge, Routledge Architecture Series.

  • In Press, forthcoming April 2023, “Hybridity as an appellation of twentieth-century Islamic built environment”. in book edited by Elizabeth Drayson. Brill publishers.

  • Grancho, N, “Drawing the “colour line”: race, ethnicity and religion in Diu”, Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City, October 2022.

  • Grancho, N. et al., “Mapping for Change”, an investigation into the role of critical mapping in supporting progressive socio-environmental urban transformation. Institute for Urban & Regional Planning (ISR), Technische Universität Berlin | TU Berlin, Berlin, May 2022.


  • "The Hybrid Danish Colonial Home", STAY HOME: New perspectives on the Home, The Royal Danish Academy - Architecture, Design, Conservation, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 10-11 2022.

  • “Places in-between: Zanzibar, Diu and Tranquebar. Hybridity in architectural and urban colonial cultures from the Indian Ocean realm,” Crossings in the Indian Ocean Memory and Heritage,  CHAM, New University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal, Camões Institute for Cooperation and Portuguese Language, Lisbon, Portugal, The Museum of Indian Ocean, SUZA, The State University of Zanzibar, Zanzibar, Stone Town of Zanzibar, Tanzania, November 8-9 2022.

  • “How to Draw Time in the Danish colonial city in India,” Timely Histories, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient - Berlin, Germany, and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies – New Delhi, India, New Delhi, India, October 12-14 2022.

  • "Three Port Cities in the Borders Between East and West: Diu, Tranquebar, and Pondicherry", Colonial Cities and Border Regimes in the Long 19th Century in Inter-imperial and Intra-imperial Comparisons, Herder Institute for Historical Research, September 26-29 2022. 

  • "Privacy in Architecture of Copies in Danish Colonial India", The Architecture of Copies | Copies of Architecture, Department of Art History, Aesthetics & Culture and Museology, School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, September 21-22 2022.

  • "Religion and Co-spatiality in a former European colonial city in India" 15th International Conference of the European Association for Urban History “Inequality and the City”,  Antwerp, Belgium, August 31 - September 3 2022.

  • “INDIABRIDGE”, EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF): Crossing Borders, Engaged Science, Resilient Societies. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Satellite Event. Invitation by the European Commission. Leiden, July 12-13 2022.

  •  "Writing Social Architectural and Urban Histories through Privacy", Network for History and Cultural Studies, Royal Danish Academy, Architecture, Design and Conservation, Institute of Architecture and Design, Copenhagen, January 12 2022.


  • “Privacy and Architecture: constructing a history” (author and chair), 2022 Conference of the Universities' Art Association of Canada, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, October 27-29 2022.


October 2022, Grant from Asian Dynamics Initiative, University of Copenhagen, for Short Term Scientific Mission in Tranquebar, Serampore, Chennai and Calcutta, India, to conduct research during the year 2023 for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie research project “Privacy on the move: two-way Processes, Data and Legacy of Danish metropolitan and colonial Architecture and Urbanism”.


February 16, 2022, in the Indian Ocean World Centre podcast (McGill University, Montreal; Canada), Nuno Grancho discusses his research into the architecture of the island city of Diu, Gujarat, West India.

October 6 and 7, 2022, in the symposium Privacy and Colonialismresearchers specializing in colonial history will interrogate the politics and poetics of privacy, understood historically, in places where indigenous and native peoples were displaced from their land for the purposes of extraction and expansion that benefitted European empires in pre-modern times.



Centre for Privacy Studies,

Karen Blixens Plads 16,

2300 København S,



Room 5C.0.07



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 895924 (01/09/2021 to 31/08/2024)