Hong Kong / Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism & Architecture

This cinematic and spatial installation offers a transcendent experience of Dublin Bay for the citizens of Hong Kong.


Created by Robert Bourke Architects and filmmaker Marion Bergin supported by Areaman Productions, the piece responds to the Biennale’s theme entitled ‘Seeds of Resilience’. Participants proposed ways that worldwide citizens can cope with contemporary urban challenges such as socio-political flux, global pandemics and the climate and biodiversity crisis.

The immersive installation offers a transcendent experience of Dublin Bay for the people of Hong Kong. During the pandemic, Dubliners turned to wild swimming in droves seeking warmth, connection and shared experiences in the cold waters of the Irish sea. It has continued beyond lockdown to become a popular activity for solace and sustenance in navigating life’s pressures – for Hong Kong, a utopia on faraway shores to long for.

This experiential collaboration is crafted as a visual journey and soundscape to gently encourage respite and reflection. Hong Kong city dwellers are invited to sit and experience a drop in cortisol by engaging in this slow, purposely meditative piece and come away a little lighter, with a renewed sense of hope and well-being, just like that experienced by Dubliners post-swim.

The film is shot at three popular swim spots along the coast of Dublin: the Vico, High Rock and the Bull Wall. We encounter diverse swimmers who regularly visit these spots to connect with the natural world and the brutalist concrete structures, often built in the 1960’s, that facilitate entry, even in the wildest winter. These elements sit quietly in the film and, like the shelters themselves, their safe and grounding presence is felt amongst the cold waters and warm feelings of the piece.

SWIMirl is an abstract reflection upon the people we meet and the waters that connect them. The piece digitally communicates an irl (in real life) experience, demonstrating how emotion, warmth and solidarity can be felt and shared, regardless of location, within the limitless possibilities of technological advancement.

This project has been kindly supported by Creative Ireland and the Irish Architecture Foundation.




RBA would like to thank the Hong Kong / Shenzhen Biennale Curatorial team, the The Hong Kong Institute of Architects Biennale Foundation (HKIABF), Culture Ireland, Irish Architecture Foundation, Architectural Association of Ireland and The Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland for their generous support.

Full Credits

Dublin Architect: Robert Bourke Architects
Hong Kong Architect: Sam Chan
Filmmaker: Marion Bergin
Producer: Marion Bergin, Shane Hogan
Production Company: Areaman Productions
Cinematographer: Kevin L Smith
Sound Recordist: Kevin Moore
Editor: Aisling Calt
Colour Grade: Leandro Arouca
Sound Design: James Latimer
Production Assistant: Kiva Durkan
Audio Visual Advisor: Joey Maguire



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