Using the Zoning Tool in Design
What is it?
It is about efficient energy planning, by grouping things according to
- how often they are used
- how often they need to be serviced.
The zones are usually numbered from 00 to 5 with zone 00 being our bodies and zone 5 being the wilderness area eg the area we have no interaction with. It is wild and unmanaged by humans. And I wonder, perhaps we can never step into the wilderness, for to do so means it can no longer be called the wilderness.
There is a full breakdown of the zones later in this post.
How can we use it in designing?
As a placement tool We can deliberately place elements in the different zones, for instance I’ve done this with my kitchen cupboards – putting surplus jam in a remote, less accessible cupboard and tea and coffee on a shelf above the kettle.
As a planning tool ie what attention does a ‘zone’ need? And are there the resources for that attention.
It can also be used alongside other tools and through the window of the ethics and principles eg what are the ethical implecations of each zone in the design?
Most homes and gardens don’t have any more than zones 1 and 2. Although if areas of a garden are deliberately left unmanaged for a long time they could be considered zone 4.
In relation to the body
|Skin surface / edge|
|Touch (arms length)|
|A step away (smell)|
In relation to shelter
|Beyond the gate (city / village)|
In relation to a farm
|Orchard / Fields / Woodland|
In relation to time
|All of time|
|High energy input|
|Low energy input|
|No energy input|
Applying zoning to different parts of the design process
- Would zoning aspects of ‘my design’ be useful to improve its efficiency?
- Identify the elements to be placed in the design and then assess how much time they will require for maintenance / use / engaging with. (This can also be part of the implementation / maintenance section)
- Identify where you’d like or where it is possible to put the zone boundaries (note that these are not usually fixed edges and that there can be more than one area of the same zone)
DESIGN SOLUTION section
- Divide space / project into different zones
- Allocate the elements to them
IMPLEMENTATION / MAINTENANCE section
- Use the zones to plan your strategy
- Use zones to decide when to evaluate
- Use zones as a measure against what has been achieved. Did the elements need the maintenance as expected? Could they have been better placed?
- How useful (if used) was the zoning tool in this design?
- Zone the tools used according to how you might use them in the future based on the experience of using them here.