Technically put, zoning is the legislative process that divides privately-owned urban areas into different zones (such as residential, commercial, industrial) according to the specified land use. Each zone is regulated as to the density, location, size, and type of buildings permitted therein.
Zoning, nevertheless, is a tool for spatial organization.
However, the zoned composition, of predominantly American cities, into demarcated areas of use such as residential, industrial and commercial, was heavily criticized in the 1950s by Lewis Mumford and also by Jane Jacobs in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Meanwhile, at the scale of the public park and private housing, the montage arrangement of clearly demarcated zones of activity is the signature of many contemporary architects.