Zones and areas are groups of map tiles, marked by the player. They aren't structures, rather just marked sections of the map for organization and control.
Zones are groups of map tiles, marked by the player, and may be selected and configured. Zones are always contiguous. They define their own space and cannot overlap other zones.
The content of any stockpile, dumping stockpile or growing zone can be defined by selecting the zone and clicking the brown button that appears above the Architect menu. The priority of a stockpile or dumping stockpile can also be set there.
Stockpiles are where most of a colony's goods are stored. They can be configured to hold any combination of items, from individual items (metal stockpile, log stockpile etc.) to groups of items (weapons stockpile, meal stockpile etc.) or even all items.
Dumping stockpiles are, by default, enabled to hold debris and corpses, however they are functionally identical to regular stockpiles, differing only in name and default settings.
Some applications for dumping stockpiles outside of general storage include hauling debris to form makeshift defenses, or creating areas to dispose of raider corpses via molotov cocktails.
Growing zones allow colonists with the growing job enabled to grow plants. These plants range from food crops, to flowers to improve the environment, to trees to provide wood. Soil fertility and amount of available light strongly influences plant growth, and so are major factors to consider when placing growing zones. Some soil is superfertile (exceeding 100%), and will yield crops at a better than normal rate.
Growing zones are less efficient than hydroponics, therefore it is advisable to move food production to hydroponics when it becomes available.
Hydroponics are a necessity in extreme environments, like arctic ice sheets, where plants will not grow because of temperature or fertility. The hydroponic basin is placed indoors, where the temperature can be regulated.
The delete zones tool allows players to delete stockpile or growing zones square by square, allowing players to shape or remove their zones according to their needs.
Areas are groups of map tiles, marked by the player, and act like an invisible layer on the map. Areas become visible only when using their expand or clear tools. Each type of area exists in its own layer, serves its own purpose, and may overlap other areas and zones. An area can be painted in any shape and may have disjoined sections - it need not be contiguous.
Each area tool is followed by a 'clear area' tool that is used to delete sections of that area.
An allowed area restricts where colonists can perform work and joy activities. Items and locations outside of a colonist's allowed area are considered forbidden to them. When pathing, colonists take the shortest path within their allowed area. If there's no path within their allowed area, they may leave the allowed area to take the shortest path. A hunter will not hunt animals that are outside of his or her allowed area. Firefighters will not extinguish fire that is not both in the home area and inside their allowed area.
From the Expand Allowed Area button, clicking 'Manage allowed areas' allows the player to create or delete areas, rename areas, or invert an area. Inverting an area allows a player to effectively paint the entire map except for the area as drawn by the player. Colonists may still travel through the unpainted void of an inverted area. They just won't perform any activities there.
No more than five areas may be created.
In a colonist's inspect pane they may be assigned to a single allowed area. By default it is 'Unrestricted'.
An animal area is an allowed area only for tame animals. Each animal stays in its assigned area, but will go to its master if they are drafted.
No more than five animals areas may be created.
In an animals's inspect pane it may be assigned to a single allowed area. By default it is 'Unrestricted'.
The Home area tool is very important - colonists won't fight fires or repair objects outside the home area. Home areas can be set to auto-generate around player built objects and structures, and can be toggled via the house icon in the lower right of the screen; this setting is on by default.
No Roof Area has two functions:
1--Designating a No Roof Area in an area that is not yet roofed prevents a roof from being built there.
2--Designating a No Roof Area in an area with a roof, causes a constructor to remove the roof. This function is useful for things like removing a building without risk of the roof collapsing on top of colonists, or building walls around vulnerable solar generators without blocking out the sunlight.
Removing an established roof is a low priority construction job. You may want to manually compel a constructor pawn to do the job in a timely manner, or cancel other higher priority construction jobs. When removing a wall supporting roofs, make sure that the roof has been removed before the wall. This sequence is not an automatic priority.
When having difficulty with Roof Removal, check to make sure that the pawns can actually reach the sections of roof being removed.
The partnered tool, Clear no roof area tool, allows the player to delete sections of a No roof area, allowing roofs to be built over enclosed spaces where there previously was a No roof area.
Snow clear area
The Snow clear area tool allows colonists to remove the snow from designated areas in order to increase move speed.
Build roof area
The Build roof area tool is a new tool As of Alpha 14 (July 15th, 2016), that allows colonists to build the roof in the area designated, instead of the roof immediately appearing after the space is closed. This can be very handy for example when manually constructing a roof behind your sandbags, so your colonists enjoy additional protection from incoming weapon projectiles because they are in darkness (don't forget to keep in mind that each roof tile needs to be within 6 range of a wall tile in order to not be able to collapse).